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Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 

IV.C Evolution of the War (26 Vols.) 
Direct Action: The Johnson Commitments, 1964-1968 

(16 Vols.) 

2. Military Pressures Against NVN (3 Vols.) 

a. February - June 1 964 

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IV. C. 2. (a) 





Sec Def Cont.Nr. X-. 


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The first half of 196^1- saw the unfolding of an intensive debate and 
planning effort within the Johnson Adrainistration concerning the desira- 
bility, limitations, and risks of mounting major military pressures 
against North Vietnam.. Actual U.S. involvement in SEA increased only 
slightly during this period. 

The single notable element of actual increased U.S. involvement 
during this period was a program of covert GVN operations, designed to 
impose "progressively escalating pressure" upon the North, and initiated 
on a small and essentially ineffective scale in February. The active 
U.S. role in the few covert operations that were carried out was limited 
essentially to planning, equipping, and training of the GVN forces in- 
volved, but U.S. responsibility for the launching and conduct of these 
activities v^-as unequivocal and carried with it an implicit symbolic and 
psychological intensification of the U.S. commitment. A firebreak had 
been crossed; and^ the U.S. had embarked on a program that was recognized 
as holding little promise of achieving its stated objectives, at least 
in its early stages. Thus, a demand for more was stimulated and an 
expectation of more was aroused. 

The demands came — mostly from U.S. officials in Saigon and 
Washington and mostly because of the felt need to do something about a 
f^ deteriorating situation in SVN — to increase the intensity of the covert 

operations and to change from covert to overt action. The Khanh govern- 
ment, it should be noted, opposed these demands on the grounds that it 
would expose the vulnerable GVN to greater pressures from the enemy. 
With each successive "crisis" -- recognition of insufficient intelligence 
on the nature and scope of the infiltration (Decem^ber through May), 
realization of dramatic communist gains in SVN (February), threats of 
major communist advances in Laos (late May) -- the demands were redoubled 
and intensified. The basic assumption underlying these demands v;"as that ' 
the DKV, faced with the credible prospect of losing its industrial and 
economic base through direct attack, would halt its support of the in- 
surgencies in Laos and South Vietnam. 

Beginning in early February, a series of valuable studies and 
planning exercises were undertaken, with participation of all national 
security agencies, to examine the whole panoply of problems -- objectives, 
options, effects, costs, and risks -- of mounting overt coercive pressures 
against the North. The planjiing effort served to develop consensus on 
some issues, including the recognition thatpinitive action in the North 
would be, at bes'5, complementary to successful counterinsurgency in the^ 
South. It also surfaced significant differences among the participants 
in the planning effort and in the broader debate that ensued, in their 
respective approaches to "pressure planning" as well as in the substan- 
. tive content of their recommendations. Thus, the JCS viev/ed the planning 
task as preparation of an action program for near-term implementation, and 

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I . 

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their recointnendations tended tox-rard immediate and forceful military 
measures. The State-ISA planning group^ on the other hand, viewed it as 
a contingency plarjilng exercise and its scenarios and recomraendations 
stressed a more deliberate, cautious approach, carefully tailoring pro- 
posed U.S. actions in SEA to the unique political context of each country. 
Ambassador Lodge, in turn, developed yet a third "carrot and stick" 
approach, stressing a diplomatic effort at persuasion, i>e . , combining a 
threat of punitive strikes with an offer of som-e economic assistance to 
the DRV. Ihese divergences in approach and concept persisted, though 
varying in degree and em-phasis, throughout the planning period. 

By June, with increasing recognition that only relatively heavy 
levels of attack on the DRV would be likely to have any significant com- 
pelling effect, with a greater awareness of the many imponderables raised 
by the planning effort, and with the emergence of a somewhat more hopeful 
situation in STO and Laos, most of the President's advisers favored 
"holding off on any attempts to pressure North Vietnam through overt mili- 
tary operations. Only the JCS, Aiabassador Lodge, and Walt Rostow continued 
to advocate increased military measures, and even Rostow qualified his 
recommendations with the claim that a firm public stance, and supporting 
actions giving the impression of increased military operations, would be 
the best assurance of avoiding having to employ them. Moreover, most of 
the advisers recognized the necessity of building firmer public and con- 
gressional support for greater U.S. involvement in SEA before any wider 
military actions should be undertaken. 

Accordingly, with the political conventions just around the corner 
and the election issues regarding Vietnam clearly dratm, the President 
decided against actions that vrould deepen the U.S. involvement by 
broadening the conflict in Laos, Cambodia or North Vietnam. In his view, 
there were still a number of relatively mild military and intensified 
political actions in the South open to him that v?ould serve the national _ 
interest better than escalation of the conflict. 



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C. Concept axid Rationale: Convince DRV to Desist 
by Raising the Cost • . 






A. Covert Action Program: Scope and Character 1 

B. Origins and Development: Presidential* Support 

and Approval ^ o 2 


D. Implications: Greater Pressure on Hanoi o . .. h 


A. Conceptual Origins and Motivations 5 

1. Limited potential of covert program 

2. Concern over deterioration in Laos and SVN 
So Broader concern for disproving "wars of 

liberation" strategy 

B. Interagency Study , February-March l^Gk 6 

1. Three alternative approaches to pressuring 
! 2. JCS inputs 

3. Summary of study provided McNamara on 
March trip to SVI^ 

C. Study Group Analysis of Proposed Actions • o .7 

1. Concept: To exploit DRV concern over loss 
of industry 

2. Multiple objectives >dth coercion primary 

3. Necessary public emphasis on DRV violations 
of SVI'J 

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if. Air strikes (in contrast with other actions) 
imply "commitment to go all the way" 

5. Overt pressirres: enhancing U.S. determina- 
tion without influencing the DRV 

D. McNamara Against Overt Pressures 


1. Against immediate overt actions 

2. Hot pursuit and. "border control operations 
into Laos (Recommendation #ll) ' 

3. "Preparations" for retaliatory actions and 
graduated, overt military pressures on 30 day 
notice (Recommendation #12) 


A. Two B3.sic Approaches: JCS and State-ISA ^JL 

1. JCS approval of COTCPAC OPIAN 37-64 

2. State/ISA development of political 
scenarios to accomm.ods.te graduated 
military pressures only 

B. Different Approaches.: Perceptions of the 

Strategic Problem in Southeast Asia H 

1. Laos recce controversy: JCS for lov/- 

level recce and ground probes from SW -- 
State/lSA- against 
• 2. JCS: SVN as key to SEA security; sensi- 
tivity of Laos minimized. 

3. State-ISA: SEA problems dependent on 
long-term political solxitions 

k. Short-term/long-term policy dilemma 
5. President Johnson: long-term approach 

with political concessions to Laos as 

groundwork for Lao-Viet agreement on operations 

C. Planning Overt Actions on Contingency Basis 

(April-May) 1^ 

1. ISii scenario: three seQuential phases: 

a. Current political -military actions 

b. Overt GVN-US.^.f/fARIvI}ATE operations plus 
political activities surfacing in Saigon 

c. Overt joint GVN and U.S. actions 

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2. E\rolution of scenario and JCS influence 

3. Saigon and mCY discussion of scenario 

a. Lodge: intermediary to convey "carrot 
and stick" approach to pressure DRV 

"b. Agreement from Canada to act as intermedi- 
ary^ "but no "carrot and, stick" 

D. Conflict of Short and Long Term Views: 

Caution Prevails 

1. Rostov/- and Lodge: prompt measures to 
exert pressures 

2. JCS: inclusion of more -immediate border 
control and retaliatory operations in plan- 

ning scenario 

3. The deliberate^ cautious approach 

a, McNamara to Khanli: no drastic measures; 
improve counterinsurgency in SVIT 


A. Laos in Da^nger: "Pressure Planning" 

1. JCS and prompt measures to prepare for 
recommended actions 

2. Lodge: need action against Wm to achieve 
improved. GVI^l effort 

3. Scenario development resumed: overt opera- 
against WIE as principal focus 

B. A Hev; Scenario: 30 Days of Seq.uential Politico 
Military Action 

1. Initial air strikes leading to U.S. partici- 
pation and parallel efforts to enter negotia.- 

2. Effects of scenario: communists to intensify 

C. Rejection of Scenario: "Use Eorce if Necessary .. 

1. Intelligence assessments: limited GVN-USAF/ 
mWGATE^ might induce insurgency temporarily 
but stronger actions might produce intensified 

^* ^^^ vill as crucial target 
b. Intensified actions by U.S. seen as caus- 
ing Hanoi to doubt limited U.S. aims 








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2, ExCom Recommendations: Presidential 
"decision to use force" if necessary 
and if recommended deployments and. 
signals 5 plus operations undervray fail 
to achieve objectives 

a. Abandon time-phase scenario leading 
to overt military action as goal 

b. Retain in scenario as future actions: 
Canadian mission, Honolulu conference , 
UN diplomacy. Congressional Resolution, 
force deployments, and initial strike 
coupled with diplomatic initiative 

3. Approval of Honolulu Conference and Canadian 


A. The Honolulu Conference: Defining the U.S. 

Commitment 28 

1. ■ Basic assumption: Security of SEP^ is vital 

to U.S. 

2. Administration view: Situation in SVN must 
be stiffened, 

B. At Honolulu: Exerting Pressure on IWI 28 

1. JCS for actions to destroy DRV support 
of insurgency 

2. Lodge and Khanh: attacks against WN 
forces to improve situation in SW 

3. Serious discussions of contingency "pressvires" 
to meet a vrorsenin^, laotian situation 

a. Bilateral consultations with SEATO allies 
to start with Thailand 

b. Congressional Resolution considered neces- 

c. Harsh communist reactions expected from . 
large "deterrent" deployments 

d. Need to delay wider military actions: 
public opinion, military necessity, and 
GVDT weakness 

C. The Need to Refine Plans and Resolve Issues 3^ 


T^ 1. Military planning inadequate on: 

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,- 1. Augmentation of Army contingency stocks 

H in Thailand 

2. Public affirmations of U.S. intention to 

defend. SKA. allies 
3- Public information program 
k. Congressional Resolution 
5. Assessment of different views on U.S. 

a. Rostov's views 

b. CIA assessment of "domino theory" 



a. Forces for Laos contingency 

b. Trade-offs between force build-up 
" and. limited objectives; and. 

c. Targeting objectives for NW 

2. Greater effort required: public information 
and. political intelligence 

D. The Aftermath of Honolulu 35 

E. Sources of Moderate Advice 3^ 

1. CIA: U.S. retains leverage in SEA even 
with loss of Laos and SW to ITVIT 

2. SecDef and CJCS: limited objectives and 
more cautious pace than JCS 

F. The Presid.ent Decides 38 

1. Congressional resolution seen as incurring 
a greater commitment 

2. Vfliite House against further vrork on overt 

3. White House: other actions with no increa^sed 
commitment initially will serve U.S. interests 


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11 May 63 

9 Sep 63 

1 Nov 63 

20 Wov 63 

23 Nov 63 

26 Nov 63 

11 Dec 63 


NSAM 52 


Diem overthro-^m 

Vietnam Policy 
Conference 5 

President Kennedy- 

NSM 273 

State Department 
Views on Operations 
in Laos 


Authorised CIA-sponsored covert 
operations against IWN. 

JCS approved this program for 
non-attributable "hit and run" 
GVN covert operations against 
NVNj supported by U.S. military 
advisory materiel and training 

Military junta led by General Minh 
assimied control. 

During high-level USG discussions 
of the probable consequences, 
political and military, of Diem's 
dovmfall, conferees agreed mili- 
tary operations against the Viet 
Cong had not been and would not 
be particularly upset by the 
changed political situation. 
Development of a combined MACV- 
CAS program for covert operations 
against WN was directed. 

Authorized planning for specific 
covert operations, graduated in 
intensity, against the DRV. 

State (and ISA) opposed overt ^ 
military operations in Laos. 
Extension of CIA-sponsored covert 
activity in Laos was okayed; this 
neither threatened Souvanna's 
sovereignty nor openly violated 
the Geneva Accords which State 
tenried basic to eventual political 
stability in the region. 



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19 Dec 63 



OPIAN 3^A Submitted 




The MACV-CAS plan providing a 
"spectrum of capabilities for the 
RVNAF to execute against North 
Vietnam" vjas forwarded to the 
JCS with CINCPAC 's comment that 
only air attacks and a few other 
"pLinitive or attritional" opera- 
tions were likely to achieve the 
stated objective of convincing 
Hanoi to cease supporting insur- 
gents in SVN and Laos. 

30 Dec 63 

Memo for the 
Director^ CIA 

2 Jan 6k 

Krulak Committee 


Assessing "Probable Reactions to 
Various Courses of Action with 
Respect to North Vietnam" the 
Board of National Estimates studied 
13 proposed covert operations. 
The BNE did not think any would 
convince NVN to change its poli- 
cies. Hanoi's reaction to them 
was forecast as mild. 

"Least risk" activities drawn 
from the 2062 in OPLAN 3^A formed 
the basis of a 12-month3 three- 
phase program of covert operations. 
MACV would exercise operational 
control, CAS and CINCPAC would 
train and eq.uip the GVN or third- 
nation personne]. involved. Phase 
One (February -May) included intelli- 
gence collection (through U-2 
and special intelligence missions), 
psychological operations and some 
20 "destructive" undertakings. 
Similar operations would be in- 
creased in number and intensity 
during Biases Tv;o and Three, 
destructive acts would be extended 
to targets "identified with North 
Vietnam's economic and industrial!, 
well-being." Committee members 
reasoned 'that Hanoi attached great 


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22 Jan 6k 

JCSM k6'6k 


30 Jan 6^ 

Early Feb 6k 

Coup in Saigon 

Situation in Laos 
and South Vietnam 

1 Feb 6k 

20 Feb 6k 


Lodge Msg. to 
McGeorge Bundy 

20 Feb 6^ 

NSC Meeting 


importance to economic development ^ 
that progressive damage to the 
economy - or its threatened destruc- 
tion - would convince Hanoi to 
cancel support of insurgency. But 
the committee cautioned , even 
successftil execution of the program 
might not induce Hanoi to "cease 
and desist." 

Criticizing "self-imposed restric- 
tions" on operations in Laos, 
arguing that Laotian security 
depended on that of South Vietnam, 
the JCS requested authority to 
initiate reconnaissance operations 
over and into Laos, Without them 
the task in Vietnam, wa.s made 
"more complex, time consuming... 
more costly." 

Minh's junta was ousted by one 
headed by General KhanJi. 

NVA troop influx into Laos rose 
significantly and a similar rise 
was feared in SVNj Viet Cong- 
terrorism continued to increase. 


Phase One of the covert activities 
program began. 

Ambassador Lodge urged adoption 
of a "carrot and stick" approach 
to North Vietnam (first presented 
to Governor Harriman on 30 October 
1963). Lodge envisaged secret 
contact with Hanoi to demand NVN . supporting the Viet Cong. 
In exchange the U.S. would offer 
economic aid (especially food 
imports). If Hanoi refused the 
offer, previously threatened 
punitive strikes would be initiated. 
The U.S. would not publicly admit 
to the attacks . 

President-. Johnson ordered more 
rapid contingency planning for 


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25 Feb 6k 




26 Feb 6k 

JCSM 159-6U 

29. Feb 6^ 

Director, DIA 
Memorandum for 
the Secretary 


pressures - covert and overt - 
against North Vietnam and ordered 
pressures shaped to produce the 
maximum credible deterrent effect 
on Hanoi. 

This decision reflects the con- 
vergence of (1) fear that the 
Laos situation could get worse; 
(2) knowledge that this would 
affect U.So operations and poli- 
cies in Vietnam; (3) recognition 
that more U.S. military assistance 
to the GVN vas required to execute 
OPLAN S^A; (k) and the increasing 
articulation by policy maimers (JCS, 
SecState) of a direct relationship 
between the cha^llenge of halting 
NVN assistance to insurgents and 
broader U.S. strategic interests. 
Together 5 these factors increased 
the attractiveness of proposals 
for punitive, overt actions 
against NVN. 


State recQmm.ended 12 F-100*s be 
deployed to Thailand to deter 
further NVTT activity in Laos and 
to signal U.S. determination. • 

"Steps to Improve the Situation 
in Southeast Asia with Particular 
Reference to Laos" asked authority 
to initiate low- level reconnais- 
sance flights over Laos for intelli- 
gence collection and to visibly , 
display U.S. pov/er. The JCS argued 
the "root of the probleiji is in 
North Vietnam and must be dealt 
with there," but if operations 
against IWIJ had to be ruled out, 
operations in Laos must not bCo 
They urged that Laos and South 
Vietnam be treated as an integrated 


Reporting on "North Vietnamese 
Support to the Viet Cong and 
Pathet Lao/' DIA said certain 


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1 Mar 6k 

InterJJTi Report: 
"Alternatives for 
the Imposition of 
Measured Pressure 
against NTO" 




1 Mar 6h 

Embassy Vientiane 
Message 9^7 foi" 


"intelligence gaps" related to kinds 
and amounts of arms^ supplies and 
men infiltrating SWJ through Laos. 
The JCS favored closing such gaps 
by overt military operations; State 

An Interagency Study Group under 
State's Vietnam Committee listed 
these as U.S. objectives: make 
Hanoi cease support of the Viet 
Cong; strengthen GVN and Asian 
morale and reduce VC morale; prove 
to the_ world U.S. determination 
to oppose Communist expansion. 

Military means to attain those ob- _ 
Jectives were explored -- ranging 
from the air defense of Saigon 
and US/gV¥ cross-border operations 
to the massive deployment of U.S. 
ground troops and air strikes 
against North Vietnam. The group 
believed unilateral U.S. actions 
•would not compel Hanoi to call off; 
the Viet Cong (and doubted Hanoi 
could do that anyvvay) ; operations 
against NVII vere termed no substi- 
tute for successful counterinsur- 
gency in SVII. 

However, expanded activity could 
demonstrate U.S. pover, determi- 
nation and restraint to the world^ 
reduce somewhat ITOT support to the 
Viet Cong, cause "some reduction" 
Viet Cong morale, and possibly 
improve the U.S. negotiating 
position. "New U.S. bolstering 
actions" in South Vietnam and 
considerable improvement of the 
sitiration there were required to 
reduce VC activity and make victory 
on the ground possible, according 
to the report. 

Reasoned .that if current USG 
policy towexd Laos is changed 
(e.g., if the Geneva Accords 


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2 Mar 6k 

JCSM 168-6U 

2 Mar 6k 

JCSM 174-6^ 



15 Mar 6^ 

Lodge Msg, for 
the President 
(State 1757) 

l6 Mar 6k 

SecDef Memo for 
the President 


were openly violated )5 large 

numbers of U.S. troops v/ill 

eventually be required to enforce 
political stability. 

Requesting "Removal of Restric- 
tions for Air and Ground Cross 
Border Operations j" the Joint 
Chiefs said direct action had 
to be taken to convince NVN the 
U.S. was determined to eliminate 
the insurgents' Laotian sanctuary. 
"...The time has com.e to lift 
the restrictions which limit 
the effectiveness of our military 
operations ." 

The Chiefs recommended direct 
strikes against North Vietnam. 
In line with their view (JCSM 
159-6^) that the "root of the 
problem was North Vietnam, the 
JCS justified the need for overt 
action against NVN on two grounds: 
firsts, to support the short-term 
policy objective of stopping ' 
Hanoi's aid to the insurgents; 
second, to support the long-range 
objective of forcing a change in 
DRV policy by convincing Hanoi 
the U.S. was determined to oppose 
aggression in Southeast Asia. 

Reitera-ting his preference for 
the "carrot and stick" approach 
to Planoi, Lodge opposed initiation 
of overt actions against North 

Reporting on his recent trip to 
Honoliilu and Saigon, McNamara 
recomm.ended against overt actions 
(U.S. or GVN) against NVN "at 
this time" because of the problems 
of justification, communist escala- 
tion and pressures for prema.ture 
negotiations. McNamara felt the 
practics.l range of overt actions 
did not allow assured achievement 


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17 Mar 64 

asm 288 

17 Mar 6k 

President's Message 
to Lodge (state ik^k) 


of practical U.S. objectives. (Like 
the Interagency Group, the Secre- 
tary distinguished between the 
stated aim of eliminating Planoi's 
control of the Viet Cong and the 
practical objective of building 
the morale of the Khanh regime 
while eroding VC morale.) 

The Secretary did favor military 
action against WN in Laos. He 
recoimnended initiation by GTO 
forces of "hot pursuit" and small- 
scale operations across the Laotian 
border^ plus continuation of U.S. 
high-level reconnaissance flights 
over Laos. He recommended the 
U.S. prepare planning for 72-hour 
readiness to initiate Laos and 
Cambodian border control actions 
and prepare plans for "retaliatory 
actions" (overt high and/or lovr level 
reconnaissance flights, "tit-for-tat" 
bombing strikes, commando raids) 
against KW. He also recomi^iended ■ 
planning for 30 days' readiness to 
initiate the "program of Graduated 
Overt Military Pressure" against 
North Vietnam. '^ 

Approved Mr. McHamara's report and 
his twelve recormendations to im- 
prove the military situation. 
Planning was to "proceed energeti- 

On North Vietnam, the President 
indicated agreement with Lodge's 
"carrot and stick" approach and 
said he had reserved judgment on 
overt U.S. measures against NTO. 

On Laos, the President said he was 
reluctant to inaugurate overt ac- 
tivities xinless or until he had 
Souvanna's support and a stronger 
case had been made for the necessity 
of overt operations. Otherwise the 


•^ Here McNaraara probably referred to the various plans for graduated pressure 
against NVN then being discussed; no actual "program" had yet been finalized 
or approved. 

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17 Mar 64 

Lod^e Message to 



(State 1767) 

18 Mar 6k 

JCS Message 5390 


20 Mar 6k 

President's Message 
to Lodge (state 148^+) 

31 Mar 6k 

State/lSA Draft 

President felt such action 
might have only limited military 
effect and could trigger wider 
Communist action in Laos." 

Reported GW-RLG agreement on po- 
litical and military issues. Dip- 
lomatic relations had been reestab- 
lished. Laos granted free passage 
into southern Laos to GVTT forces^ 
the right to bomb infiltration 
areas with unmarked T-28s and to 
conduct hot pursuit, comraando raids ■ 
and sabotage operations "without 
limit" into Laotian territory to 
combined RLG-GVN units. A combined 
Laotian-Vietnamese staff was to be 

The JCS directed CINCPAC to begin . 
"Planning Actions, Vietnam" in 
line with Recommendations 11 and 
12 of USA}-! 288. The program was 
to"permit sequential iraplementation" 
of three actions (border controls, 
retaliatory cross-border operations 
with 72-hour responsiveness, gradu- 
ated overt military press-ores 
against JN¥^ with 30-days responsive- 
ness) . 

Confirmed that actions with North 
Vietnam as the target m.entioned 
in NSAI-i 288 were regarded strictly 
as contingency planning and that 
interagency study was so oriented. 

State/lSA planners presented three 
papers. The first was a scenario 
for current actions (political 
steps to increase Congressional 
and international understanding of 
U.S. aim-S plus continued military 
action by GVR with U.S. advisory 
assistance) . The second scenario 
called for overt GVN/covert U.S. 
action against ITVN (characterized 
by the GVN-USAP FARI-IGATE operation) ; 
it emphasized political initiatives 


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13 Apr 6k 

J-5 Meiaorandum for 
the ASD(ISA) 

8 and 17 
Apr 6k 

Scenario Drafts 

18 " 20 
Apr 6k 

Saigon Conference 


vhich would stirface in Saigon and 
thus retain credibility for GW 
sovereignty. The third scenario 
-- associated with overt U.S.' 
response to DRV-CHICOM escalation 
— also included diplomatic and 
political preparations for overt 
U.S. activity. 

Commenting on the 31 March scenario ^ 
the Joint Staff outlined a continu- 
ally intensifying program of mili- 
tary pressures -- and gradually 
increasing U.S. military involve- 
ment. "J-5 urged the 31 March 
scenario be fused with OPLAN 37-6U 
and border control operations be 
moved into the scenario for the 
current time period. Approximate 
time-phasing of the draft's then 
separate scenarios vras recommended. 

Reflecting the JCS influence toward 
development of a continuous • 
scenario, current political ac- 
tivities were treated in a separate 
section, "Steps Which Shoiad be 
Taken Now." The other political- 
military scenarios inclvided increased 
FARMGATE operations, separate 
Laotian and Cambodian border control 
actions, separate GVN retaliatory 
actions against NVI^, and graduated 
overt U.S. military pressures 
against IWII. The detailed scenario 
for GW/FARl-iOATE operations was 
given D-Day minus X time -phasing; 
apparently it was the basis for dis- 
cussions held in Saigon on 19-20 

Scenarios and other issues were dis- 
cussed by Lodge, Vlilliem Brandy, Rusk, 
Wheeler, and others. Lodge objected 
to planning for - or adopting - 
massive publicity and massive de- ■ 
struction actions before trying a 
well-reasoned, well-planned diplo- 
matic effort to convince Hanoi to 
"call off the VC." His "carrot/ stick" 


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23 Apr 6U 

SecDef Memorandum 
to CJCS 


approach vras expanded: Lodge sug- 
gested a third country- interlocu- 
teur be selected to tell Hanoi of 
U.S. resolve, that the threat of 
air strikes be combined vith an 
economic assistance offer and that 
as part of the "carrot" the U.S. 
offer to withdraw some personnel 
from South Vietnam. 

Rusk wanted the extent of IWIl in- 
filtration and support to be satis- 
factorily proved to U.S. citizens^ 
allies and neutrals; he wanted 
Asian military support for the U.S. 
Rusk did not think China v/ould 
intervene militarily without Soviet 
support and thought we could pressiore 
the Chinese economically thrcough 
our allies. He doubted elimination 
of DRV industrial targets vrould 
have much adverse Impact on any WTR 
decision to stop aiding the insur- 

Results: Canada would be asked to 
act as interlocuteur. Also, Sec- 
retary RtivSl^ recoitimended the U.S. 
seek "more flags" to support the 
GVl"}, deploy a carrier task force 
to Cam Ranh Bay to establish a 
peimanent U.S. Naval presence, 
initiate anti-junk operations to 
"inch northv/ard" along the coast 
and enlist SEATO support in isolating 
the DRV from economic or cultural 
relations with the Free World. 

This forwarded the 20 April scenario 
■which contained three stages: un- 
coxomitting steps to be taken now; 
graduated overt pressures on the 
DRV (FARIvIGATE) ; and a contingency 
plan for overt U. Sc response to 
DRV/CHICOM escalation. The first 
stage could stand alone, but stage 
two could not be launched unless 
the U.S. "was prepared to take the 
third step — perhaps within 10 days 
of the previous "D-Day." 


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23 Apr 6k 


30 Apr 6^^ 

k May 6k 

7 May 6k 


Rosto-w MenoranduQi 
for SecState 

Rusk visit to 

Lodge to SecState 
(State 2108) 

Talking Paper for 
the Secretary 

12-13 May 6k 

l6 May 6k 

trip to Vietnam 

JCSM U22-61^ 



Reasoning that deterioration in Laos 


and SVN would make it very difficult 
to win Hanoi's adherence to the 
Geneva Accords and predicting de- 
terioration was iiinninentj Rostow 
implied necessary (U.S.) actions 
should be taken soon. 

Set up the Seaborn Mission (inter- 
locuteur) to Hanoi for mid-June. 

This reflects the deliberate, 
cautious approach then dorainant. 
In talking with General Khanh (who 
suggested putting SW fully on a 
war footing and wanted to tell ]WN 
that further interference in GTO 
affairs would bring reprisals). 
Lodge urged Khanh to keep cool and 
asked that McNaraara similarly em- 
phasize, the need to avoid such 
drastic measures during his 12 May 
meeting with Khanh. 

In addition to the Lodge suggestions, 
McNamara was to tell Khanh the U. S, 
did "not intend to provide military 
support nor undertake the military 
objective of 'rolling back' comniunist 
control in FTO." 

Khanh and McNamara met and apparently 
discussed the issues mentioned above. 

JCS criticized the final draft 
scenario for omitting the imraediate 
actions mentioned in NSAM 288 (border 
control and retaliatory operations); 
advocated incorporating retaliatoiy 
and overt military pressures against 
FVN in the second stage, as well as 
battalion- size border control ope"^a- 
tions in Laos to include striking 
brides and armed route reconnaissance. 
These were justified in JCS eyes 
because military operations against 
the DRV to help stabilize either the 
Laos or SVN situation involved 


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17 May 6h 

Pathet Lao 

19 May 6k 

JCSM k26'6k 

21 May 6k 

At the UN... 

21 May 6k 

Baltimore Sun 

21 May 6^ 

Rusk Message to 
Lodge (state 2027) 

23 May 6k 

JCSM kk3"6k 


attaclcing the same target systems 
and to a large extent 5' the same 
targets. JCS felt attacks would 
assist " the achievement of 
the objective" and offer "...the 
possibility of a favorable long- 
term solution to the insurgency 
problem in Southeast Asia." 

The Pathet Lao seized a significant 
portion of the Plaine des Jarres in 
Laos — a major setback for RLG 

Clearly indicating the crisis manage- 
ment aspects of the scene created 
by Pathet Lao gains, the JCS now 
called for new, more intensive covert 
operations during the second phase 
of OPLAN 3^A. 

Adlai Stevenson's major speech ex- 
plaining U.S.. policy toward South- 
east Asia was the first such UcS. 
move at the UN. 

With Souvanna's permission, the U.S. 
began low-level reconnaissance opera- 
tions over enemy-occupied areas in 

Rusk said Washington saw the fragility 
of the SW situation as an obstacle 
to further U.S. military involvement 
in Southeast Asia. He asked Lodge 
to suggest ways to achieve greater 
solidarity in SVN saying, "we need 
to assure the President that every- 
thing hvmianly possible is being done 
both in Washington and the Goverimient 
of Vietnam to 'provide a solid base 
of determination from which far- 
reaching decisions could proceed.^' 

The JCS renewed their plea for 
prompt "Readiness to Implement 
NSAM 288." Larger border control 
and retaliatory operations were 


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23 May 6^ 

Draft Presidential 



25 May 6k 

SNIE 50-2-6^ 


called for; prompt consultations 
with the GVIM and immediate joint 
operations vere said to "be needed. 

The crisis in Laos had focused 
interest on but one stage of 
earlier scenarios; overt opera- 
tions against IWlu The scenario 
for steps to be taken now had 
been dropped (as Rusk explained 
to Lodge on 22 May - State SO^i-Q - 
because initial attacks without 
acknowledgement were not feasible; 
publicity seemed inevitable) . The 
scenario called for 30 days of 
graduated military/political 
pressures (including initiatives 
to enter negotiations with Hanoi) . 
A Congressional Resolution support- 
ing U.S. resistance to DRV aggres- 
sion was called for; air strikes 
would continue -- despite negotia- 
tions -- until it was clear that 
WN had ceased subversion. Nego- 
tiating objectives vrere: terrorism^ 
armed attack and armed resistance 
would stop; "communications on 
networks out of the North would be 
conducted entirely in \mcoded form." 

An estimate of the likely conse- 
quences of actions proposed in the 
23 May DPM (discussed by the Execu- 
tive Committee, or ExCom, on Zk^ 25 
and 26 May). NVN might order 
guerrillas to reduce "the level of 
insurrections for the moment" in 
response to U.S. force deployments 
or FARl'IGATE attacks; with Peking and 
Moscow, Hanoi might count on inter- 
national actions to end the attacks 
and stabilize communist gains. If 
attacks continued , Hanoi might in- 
tensify political initiatives and 
possibly increase the tempo of insur- 
gency. If these failed to bring a 
settlement and if attacks damaged 


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25 May 6h 

Mc George E'Lindy 
Memorandum to 
Rusk 5 

Wm considerably, the SNIE estifnated 
liWJ would lover negotiating demands 
to -ore serve its regime -- and plan 
to renew insurgency later. The SNIE 
saw "significant danger" that Hanoi 
wo\ild fight because (l) Wm did not 
think the U.S. would commit ground 
forces and (2) even if U.S. troops 
were sent, KVIJ believed they could 
be defeated ^ la 195^. Affecting 
the will of IWIST leaders was em- 
phasized. None of the actions fore- 
cast in the DR4 would affect enemy 
capabilities because the major 
sources of "communist strength in 
SVN are indigenous." The SNIE said 
the DRV must (be made to) understand 
that the U.S. — not seeking to 
destroy N7TT — is willing to "bring 
ascending pressure to bear to per- 
suade Hanoi to reduce the insurrec- 
tions . " The report added "... 
retaliatory measures which Hanoi 
might take in Laos and South Vietnam 
might make it increasingly difficult 
for the U.S. to regard its objectives 
as attainable by limited means. 
Thus difficulties of comprehension 
might increase on both sides as the 
scale of action mounted." 

The ExCom abandoned the scenario 

approach — perhaps because entering 
into escalating conflict might ob- 
scure the limited U.S. objectives. 
The ExCom .recommended the President 
decide that the U.S. will use gradu- 
ated military force against WE 
after appropriate diplomatic and 
political warning and preparation; 
evident U.S. determination to act 
-- ^^ombined with other efforts -- 
"should produce a sufficient improve- 
ment of non-communist prospects in 
South Vietnam and in Laos to make 
military action against North Viet- 
nam unnecessary." 

f ^ 


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26 May 6k 

Lodge Message to 
Rusk (State 2318) 

27 May Sk 

Polish Initiative 

29 May 6k 

State Message 
to Rusk 
(TOSEC 36) 

OR: The ExCom explicitly assumed 
that a decision to use force if 
necessary -- backed by resolute 
deployment and conveyed every way 
possible " the best present 
chance of avoiding the actual use 
of such force." Other actions 
recoininended were: ccimnunicate U.S. 
resolve through the Canadian inter- 
locuteur; call a high-level South- 
east Asian strategy conference; 
begin diplomatic efforts at the IM 
to present the case for DRV aggres- 
sion; consult with SEATO allies 
and obtain allied force commitments; 
seek a Congressional Resolution in 
support of U.S. resistance to EYN 
in SEA; deploy forces periodically 
to the region; consider an initial 
strike against IJTO "designed to 
have more deterrent than destructive 
Impact" and accomapny it by an active 
diplomatic offensive to restore 
stability -- including an agreement 
to a Geneva Conference. 

Lodge said only fixTn action against 
l^orth Vietnam by the U.S. and GW 
could lead to a significant improve- 
ment in the GW effort, (A "new 
wrinkle" in Lodge's view.) 

Poland proposed a Laos conference 
format which avoided many undesir- 
able aspects of those formerly 
supported by communist governments. 

The ExCom; preferring to initially 
treat Laos independently of Vietnam^ 
recommended the President accept 
the Polish proposal. The U.S. would 
not be willing to \rrite off Laos to 
the communists and would assure 
Souvanna: "We would be prepared 
to give him prompt and direct mili- 
tary support if the Polish Con- 
ference..." failed. 

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30 May 6k 


JCSM if60-6U 

2 Jun 64 

JCSM k6l-6h 

(CJCS non-concurred) 

2 Jun 6k 


1-2 Jun 6k 




Advocating "Air Strikes Against 
North Vietnam," the JCS felt WE 
support to insurgents could be re- 
duced by armed reconnaissance of 
highways leading into Laos, strik- 
ing airfields identified with 
supporting insurgents, striking 
supply, axiimunition and POL storage 
sites and military installations 
connected with PL/vC support. The 
JCS said Hanoi's "military capability 
to take action against Laos and the 
RWI" would result from hitting 
"remaining" airfields, important 
railroad and highway bridges, depots 
in northern NVN and from aerial 
mining and bombing of POL stores 
in Hanoi and Haiphong. The Chiefs 
also outlined the capability to 
effectively destroy the entire 
NVTT industrial base. 


Recommended the U.S. seek to destroy 
Hanoi's will and capabilities, as 
necessary, to support the insurgency. 
They called for "positive, 
and meaningful military action" -- 
mainly air strikes -- to show NVN 
"we are now detennined that (its 
support to insurgency) will stop" 
and to show NVl^I v/e can and will make 
them incapable of rendering such 
support • 

Rusk reported General Khanh's views; 
Khanh felt the GVI^J could not win 
against the Viet Cong without some 
military action outside its borders; 
he wanted insurgent forces in eastern 
Laos cleaned out -- by GVN forces 
and U.S. air support; he recommended 
selected air atta-cks against N\rN" 
"designed to minimize the chances 
of a drastic communist response." 

Conferees assessing overall U.S. 
policy toward Southeast Asia agreed 
with State that the point of depar- 
ture " and miust be that v^e 
cannot a.ccept (the) over-running of 
Southeast Asia by Hanoi and Peking." 

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3 Jun 6^ 

William Eimdy 
Memorandum for 

Mid-Jun 6^ 

Post -Honolulu 
Military Actions 


"Operational" -~ not pplicy -- 
aspects of air operations against 
WU vrere the main points of dis- 
cussion, with attention centered 
on the effect of pressures in 
Laos^ preparatory steps necessary 
for a Laotian contingency and 
probable repercussions. 

Evaluating possible communist reac- 
tion to pressures against IIYN, 
Mr, McNamara said the "best current 
view" was an appropriately limited 
attack- against ITVjM;, which would not 
bring CHICOM air or JWlVCHlCOM 
ground forces. Westmoreland felt 
there was no significant unused 
capability left to the VC; Lodge 
said the VC had a major capability 
for terrorism;, even for military 
action against Saigon, Like Khanh, 
Lodge also felt selective bombing 
would build morale and imity in 
South Vietnam. 

Results: The U.S. would seek inter- 
national (beginning with U.S. -Thai 
consultations) and domestic support 
(through a Congressional Resolution) 
for wider U.S. actions. ("V/ider" 
could mean committing up to seven 
U.Sc dix'-isions and calling up the 
reserves " the action unfolds c") 
But actual expansion of the U.S. 
role would be postponed for these 
and other politico-military reasons. 

The report to the President on 
Honolulu was probably based on this 
paper, in which Bundy recapped talks 
there and called for time to "refine" 
pla: s and estimates , to "get at" 
basic doubts about the value of 
Southeast Asia and the importance 
of the U.S. stake there. 

Mr. McNati^ara discussed FVH targets , 
troop movement capabilities with 
the JCS (8 June); he wanted facts 


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Mid"Jun 6k 

Post "Honolulu Ilon- 
Military Activity 

9 Jun 6U 

Memorandum for the 
Director, CIA 

10 Jim 64 

SecDef Memorandum to 
CJCS (Response to 
CM-lU5i-6U, 5 Jun Gh) 


and statistics on Haiphong traffic, 
existing plans for and estitiated 
impact of mining the harbor, altei^- 
native DRV importation facilities. 
He ordered immediate improvement 
in effectiveness and readiness plus 
some expansion of prepositioned 
stocks in Thailand and Okinava. 

State began gathering information 
on prevalent public questions about 
the U.S. in Vietnam, in Southeast 
Asia; interagency groups studied 
ijnplications of a Congressional 
Resolution; Rusk {ik June), Presi- 
dent Johnson (23 June) and others 
spoke publicly on U.S. goals in 
Asia, U.S. determination to support 
its Southeast Asian allies. 

President Johnson asked: "Would 
the rest of Southeast Asia neces- 
sarily fall if Laos and South 
Vietnam came under NVN control?" 
The CIA response said Cambodia 
"might" but no other nation "vrould 
quickly succumb." U.S. prestige, 
credibility and position in the 
Far East would be profoundly 
damaged but the vider U.S. interest 
in containing overt military attacks 
would not be affected. All of this 
■was predicated on a clear-cut 
communist victory in Laos and South 
Vietnam and U.S. withdrawal from the 
area, Ihe Agency called results of 
a "fuszy" outcome harder to evaluate. 

McWamara supported Taylor's criticism 
of JCSM k6l-6h (2 June) 5 agreeing 
that the two courses of action pre- 
sen'^ed by the Chiefs were neither 
accurate nor complete. Taylor saw 
three ways in which air power could 
be used to pressure IWl^ -- and opted 
for the least dangerous. He recom- 
mended demonstrative strilies against 
limited military targets to show 


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12 Jim 6k 

William Bundy 

15 Jim 6k 

McGeorge Bundy 
Memorandum to 
SecState, SecDef, 



U.S. readiness and intent to move 
up the scale if NVN did not reduce 
insurgent support. Up the scale 
meant moving from de^nonstrative 
strikes to attacks against a sig- 
nificant part of the DRV military 
target system and ultimately^ to 
massive attacks against all signi- 
ficant military targets in NVI^I. 
By destroying them the U.S "would 
destroy NVN's capacity to support 

Called for a Congressional Resolu- 
tion right away to demonstrate 
U.S. resolve (especially to Souvanna 
and Khanh) and provide flexibility 
for executive action. 

One subject \ias made the agenda for 
final talks about a Congressional 
Resolution: actions still open to 
the U.S. if both major military 
operations and a Congressional 
Resolution are rejected at this 
time. White House guidance indi- 
cated that by taking limited mili- 
tary and political actions ^ the 
U.S. could demonstrate firm resis- 
tance vithout risking m^ajor escala-"- 
tion or loss of policy flexibility. 

McGeorge Bundy suggested these 
possible limited actions, military; 
reconnaissance, strike, T-28 opera- 
tions in all of Laos; small-scale 
reconnaissance strilces — after 
appropriate provocation — in IJVN; ■ 
WAF strikes in Laotian corridors; 
limited air and sea, more limited 
ground deployments. (Bundy said 
major grotmd force deployments seam 
more questionable vrithout a decision 
"to go north" in some form.) Po- 
litical; "Higher authority" vants 
a maxitrrum effort to increase allied 
real and visible presence in support 

I i 


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of Saigon; make intensive efforts 
to sustain Souvanna; rapidly 
develop province and information 
programs^ strengthen the country 
team, shift the U.S. role from 
advice to direction; opposing 
both aggressive adventure and 
withdrawal, explain the above 
lines of action (especially in 
the U.S.) and leave the door open 
to selected military actions. 

Unless the enemy provoked drastic 
measures, the ExCom agreed that 
defense of "U.S. interests. . .over 
the next six months" is possible 
within limits. Both a Congressiona.1 
Resolution and wider U.S. action 
were deferred. 

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I. Initiation of Covert Operations 

I On 1 February 196^, the United States embarked, on a new course of ■ 

action in pursuance of its long-standing policy of attempting to bolster 
the security of Southeast Asia. On that date, under direction of the 
American military establishment, an elaborate program of covert military 

* - operations against the state of North Vietnam was set in motion. There 

■were precedents: a variety of covert activities had been sponsored by 
the Ajnerican CIA since I96I. Intelligence agents, resupplied by air, 
had been dispatched into North Vietnam; resistance and sabotage team.s 
had been recruited inside the country; and propaganda leaflets had been 
dispensed from "civilian mercenary" aircraft, l/ But the program that 
began in February 196^ was different, and its impact on future U.S. 
policy in Southeast Asia was far-reaching. 

■ ■ ^' Covert Action Program: Scope and Character 

The covert action program beginning in February 196^ vras different, 
first of all, because it was a program . Designed to extend over a period 
of 12 months, it was divided into three phases distinguished by the 
character and intensity of their respective operations. The first phase 
(February through May) called for intelligence collection through U-2 
^" and communications intelligence missions and psychological operations 

involving leaflet drops, propaganda kit deliveries, and radio broadcasts. 
It also provided for about "20 destructive undertakings, all vfithin... 
early prospective /GVN/ capabilities. . ./and/ designed to result in sub- 
stantial destruction, economic loss and harassment." The second and 
third phases involved the same categories of action, but- of increased 
tempo and magnitude, and with the destructive operations extending to 

I "targets identified with North Vietnam's economic and industrial well- 

being." Once started, the program was intended to inflict on North 

I Vietnam increasing levels of punishment for its aggressive policies. 2/ 


\ The 196^ program was different also because- it was placed under 

( ■ control of an operational U.S. military comm^and. Though the program vms 

designed to be carried out by GVN or third country personnel, plans were 
developed by COKUSMACV and the GVN jointly and given interagency clear- 
ance in Washington through a special office under the JCS. CINCPAC and 
the appropriate CIA. station furnished the necessary training and equip- 
ment support and COMJSIvlACV exercised operational control. 3/ Since 
subsequent phases of the covert program were to be based on a continuous 
evaluation of actions e,lready taken, operation reports were submitted 
periodically through JCS staff channels for review by various vJashington 


Normally such routine staffing arrangements tend to encourage 
expectations of continued program actions. Moreover, they foreshadow 
"bureaucratic pressures for taking stronger measures should previous ones 

• • 

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fail to produce desired results. In the case of the covert operations 
program^ these tendencies were reinforced through the evocation of a 
GVN policy conimitment and the involvement of GVN officials in its 
impleraentation. • ■ 

B . Origins and Development: Presidential Support and A pproval 

The covert program v:as spamed in Kay of 19^3 ^ vhen the JCS 
directed CINCPAC to prepare a plan for GVTI "hit and^ run" operations 
against mT\[. These operations were to he "non-attrihutable" and carried 
out "with U.S. railitary materiel, training and advisory assistance." U/ 
Approved by the JCS on 9 September as CINCPAC 0?U1^ 3^-63^ ^^^ plan was 
discussed during the Vietnam policy conference at Honolulu, 20 November 
1963. Here a decision was m.ade to develop a combined COMuSMACV-CAS, Saigon 
plan for a 12-month prograja of covert operations. Instructions forv.^arded 
by the JCS on 26 Novem.ber specifically requested provision for: "(l) 
harassment; (2) diversion; (3) political pressure; (4) capture of prisoners; 
(5) physical destruction; (6) acquisition of intelligence; (?) generation 
of inteDligence; and (8) diversion of DRV resources." Further, that the 
plan provide for "selected actions of graduated scope and intensity to 
include comunando type coastal raids." |/ To this guidance was added that 
given by President Johnson to the effect that "plamiing should include... 
estimates of such factors as: (l) resulting daiaage to N\^N; (2) the 
plausibility of denial; (3) possible N^/N retaliation; and {h) other inter- 
national reaction." 6/ The^M/^CV-CAS plan, designated OPKAII 3^A, and 
providing for "a spectrum of capabilities for RVNAJ to execute against 
F«J," was forwarded by CIrlCPAC on I9 December 1963^ 7/ 

The idea of putting direct pressure on North Vietnam met prompt 
receptivity on the part of President Johnson. According to then Assistant 

■Secretary of State, Roger Hilsman, it was just a few days before the 
military-CIA submission that State Departm.ent Counselor, Walt Rostcw 
passed to the President "a well-reasoned case for a gradual escalation." 8/ 
Rostow was well-knovm as an advocate of taking direct measures against 
the external sources of guerrilla support, having hamm.ered away at this 
theme since he first presented it at Fort Bragg in April I96I. In any 
event, on 21 December, President Johnson directed that an interdepartmental 
comraittee study the l-IACV-CAS vle^n to select from it those least risk." 
This corrimAttee, under the chainaanship of Major General Krulak, USMC, 
completed its study on 2 January 196^^ and submitted its report for review 
by the principal officials of its various m^em.ber agencies. The report 

■ recommended the' 3"Phase approach and the variety of Phase I operations 
described earlier. £/ President Johnson approved the cominittee's recom- 
mendations on 16 January and directed that the initial U-mionth phase of 
the program be implemented beginning 1 February. lO/ 

C. Concept and Rationale: Convince DRV to D esist by R aisinp; the Cost 

J. . _ - _ .^^ -1 — -1 — _ -_ _r-- WT _ ____ .. ' -..■■■■I 1—^^^^^^ - - - — 

In view of program. perfoim:ance and later decisions, the conceptua- 
lization underlying the prograra of covert operations against North Vietnam 
is particularly significant. JCS objectives for the initial CINCPAC form- 
lation were to increase the cost to the DRV of its role in the South 

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Vietnamese insurgency. The catalogue of operations submitted from 
Saigon was intended to "convince the DEV leadership that they should 
cease to support insurgent activities in the RW and Laos." Although^ 
in its forwarding letter^ CINCPAC expressed douht that all but a few 
of the 2062 separate operations detailed by MACV-CAS could have that 
kind of effect. In his view, only air attacks and a few other "punitive 
or attritional" operations had any probability of success in achieving 
the stated objectives, ll/ 

Rationale accompanying the interdepartmental committee's program 
recommendations 5 apparently accepted by higher authority, reflected 
both the coercive objectives and the reservations associated with the 
earlier documents. Through its recommended program of "progressively 
escalating pressure/' the committee aijned "to inflict increasing punish- 
ment upon North Vietnam and to create pressures, which may convince the 
North Vietnam-ese leadership, in its ovm self-interest, to desist from 
its aggressive policies." However, it expressed the caution that "it 
is far from clear v?hether even the successful conduct of the operations, 
would induce Hanoi's leaders to cease and desist." Still, after enumer- 
ating a num^ber of specific risks involved, it expressed the opirJ,on that 
they were "outweighed by the potential benefits of the actions jixj 
recommended." In selecting these actions, the committee stated the 
assumiption that the DRV's current strategy was to support the Viet Cong 
"at little cost' to itself and at little risk to its Industrial complex, 
while counting for victory upon U.S. and South Vietnamese war weari- 
ness..." It calculated: 

"The importance attached by Hanoi's leaders to the 
development of North Vietnam's economy suggests that pro- 
gressive damage of its industrial projects, attrition of 
its resources and dislocation of its economy might induce 
I a decision to call off its physical support of the Viet 

Cong. This reaction might be intensified by the traditional 
Vietnamese fear of Chinese domination, where expanded opera- 
tions by oui^ side could arouse concern in Hanoi over the 
likelihood of direct Chinese Communist intervention in 
North Vietnamese affairs." 12/ 

Interagency commentary on the proposed operations provides additional 
insight into the rationale and expectancies associated with the initial 
ii-month program. After reviewing 13 of these operations, the Board of 
National Estimates concluded that "even if all were successful," they 
' would not achieve the aim of convincing the DRV to alter its policies. 

The Board thought it possible that North Vietnamese leaders might view 
these operations "as representing a significant increase in the vigor 
of U.S. policy, potentially dangerous to them," but with a likely re- 
action no more significant than a DRV effort to try to arouse greater 
international pressure for a Geneva-type conference on Vietnam. In 
addition, it cautioned that at least three operations proposed for the 
initial period were too large and complex to be plausibly denied by the 

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GVN. 13/ The coinnaittee noted this CIA caution but suggested it might 
provide a psychological advantage "for South Vietnam to acknowledge 
publicly its responsibility for certain of the retaliatory acts taken 
against the aggressor." Hovrever, the State Department member demurred, 
urging that only those operations that were covert and deniable by both 
the GVN and the United States be undertaken- His caution reflected 
recognition "of the risks and the uncertainty as to whether operations 
against North Vietnam will m_aterially contribute to our objective of 
ending the war." ih/ 

D. Implications: Greater Pressure on Hanoi 

Thus, l)y early February 196^, the United States had committed 
itself to a policy of attempting to improve the situations in South 
Vietnam and Laos by subjecting North Vietnam to increasing levels of 
direct pressure. Despite explicit assessments that the contemplated 
early steps could not achieve its objectives, it had embarked on a pro- 
gram v;hich demanded a significant comrnitm-ent for its South Vietnamese 
allies and which in its expected later stages could expose them to con- 
siderable risk. Moreover, by initiating a program recognized as giving 
little promise of achieving its stated objectives through early actions, 
it raised expectancies for continued and intensified operations in later 
stages. It can be concluded that either the Administration (l) intended 
to continue to pursue the policy of pressuring North Vietnam until these 
pressures showed some propensity for success, or (2) sought through the 
covert operations program to achieve objectives different from those 
anticipated during the initial planning. 

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II. Planning for Larger Pressures 

As indicated "by reser^/ations expressed by an ad hoc interdepart- 
mental coimnlttee en "pressures" against North Vietnam chaired by General 
Krulak, covert operations tfere seen as possessing several shortcomings 
vith respect to influencing decisions in Hanoi. In appraising these 
operations, attention vas dravn increasingly to the potential for under- 
taking punitive measures that appeared likely to be more compelling. 
The Krulak committee assessed the likely North Vietnamese response as 
follows : 

"Toughened^ as they have been, by long years of hard- 
ships and struggle, they will not easily be persuaded by 
a punitive program to halt their support of the Viet Cong 
insurgency, tmless the damage visited upon them is of great 
magnitude." 1^/ 

Moreover, the comraittee rationale reflected the idea generally held that 
the DRV would be responsive to more damaging actions. For example, V/alt 
Rostow pressed the view on Secretary Rusk tlmt "Ho /Chi Minh/ has an in- 
dustrial complex to protect: he is no longer a guerrilla fighter with 
nothing to lose." 16/ 

A. Conceptual Origins and Motivations 


In early February, several conceptual elements converged to focus 
Administration attention on the question of whether U.S. policy should^ 
embrace readiness to undertake larger punitive actions against North Viet- 
nam. One element was the realization that the GVTi would be incapable of 
increasing the number or size of its maritime operations beyond the modest 
"pin pricks" included in the Phase I covert actions program. Should 
stronger pressures be called for before May or June, they would have to be 
applied through direct air strikes, probably with USAF/fAKMGATE assistance. 
17/ Another element was the prospect of serious deterioration within Laos 
and South Vietnam, resulting from recent North Vietnamese troop inflirxes 
into Laos, fear of similar trends in South Vietnam, ^nd heightened VC 
activity in the wake of the latest GVN coup of 30 January. 18/ Concern 
within the State Department was such that discussions were held on the 
desirability of the President's requesting a congressional resolution, 
drawing a line at the borders of South Vietnam. 19/ 

A third element was the increasing articulation of a direct rela- 
tion between the challenge of halting North Vietnam's assistance to the 
Southeast Asian insurgents and broader U.S. strategic interests. Stopping 
Hanoi from aiding the Viet Cong virtually became equated with protecting 
U.S. interests against the threat of insurgency throughout the world. 
For example, in support of their recon^.mendation to "put aside many of the 
self-imposed restrictions which now limit our efforts" and "undertalie a 
much higher level of activity" than the covert actions against external 
assistance to the Viet Cong, the JCS argued: 

"In a broader sense, the failure of oui^ prograjus in South 
Vietnam would have heavi-- influence on the judgment of Burma, 

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India, Indonesia, Mala^ysia, Japan, Taiwan, the Republic of 
Korea, and the Republic of the Fnilippines with respect to 
U.S. durability, resolution, and trustworthiness. Finally, 
this being the first real test of our determination to de- 
feat the Cocununist wars of national liberation formula, it 
is not unreasonable to conclude that there would be a 
corresponding unfavorable effect upon our image in Africa 
and in Latin America." 20/ 

Similarly, in Secretary Rusk's perception. 

"We must demonstrate to both the Coiiimunist and the non- 
Communist worlds that the wars of national liberation 
formula now being pushed so actively by the Communists will 
not succeed." 21/ 

B. Intera,p:ency Study, February-March 196U 

The immediate effect of the heightened interest in causing Hanoi 
to alter its policies by exerting greater punitive pressures was to stimu- 
late a variety of planning activities vathin the national security estab- 
lishment. For example, on 20 February, at a meeting vath the Secretaries 
of State and Defense, CIA Director McCone, CJCS Taylor and mem.bers of the 
Vietnam Committee^ the President directed: 

"Contingency planning for pressures against Worth 
Vietnam should be speeded up. Particular attention should 
be given to shaping such pressures so as to produce the 
maximum credible deterrent effect on Hanoi." 22/ 

B Underway at the time was a detailed interagency study intended to 

determine ways of bringing measured pressures to bear against the DRV. 
Directed by Robert Johnson, of the Department of State Policy Planning 
Council, the study group was assembled under the auspices of State's 
Vietnam Committee. Its products were funneled through William Sullivan, 
head of the cocimittee, to its members and thence to the principal offi- 
cials of the agencies represented. However, the papers produced by the 
study group did not necessarily represent coordinated interdepartmental 
views. 23/ 

The study examined three alternative approaches to subjecting 
Forth Vietnam to coercive pressures: (l) non-attributable pressures 
(simil8.r to the advanced stages of the covert actions program); (2) overt 
U.S. deployi^ients and operations not directed toward DRV territory; and 
(3) overt U.S. actions against T^orth Vietnam, including amphibious, naval 
and air attacks. In addition, it encompassed a number of "supporting 
studies" on such subjects as U.S. objectives, problems of timing, upper 
limits of U.S. action, congressional action^ control arrangements, in- 
formation policy, negotia^ting problems, and specific country problems. 
By addressing such a range of subjects, participants in the study came to 
grips with a number of broader issues valuable for later policy delibera- 
tions (e_._p;. , costs and risks to the U.S. of contemplated actions; impact 
of the Sino-Soviet split; possible face.-saving retreats). 2k/ 

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\ ■ In support of this study and in order to permit necessary politi- 

cal evaluations concerning the military alternatives available, the JCS 
■were asked to furnish their views on the following issues: (l) the overall 
military capabilities of the DRV and Chinese Communists with respect to lo- 
gistical capacity^ geographical areas of operation^ time required to initi- 
ate operations, and capacity for concurrent reactions in different regions; 
(2) military actions against NW, using air and naval power only, which the 
GW might undertake alone or which the U. S. might undertake both with and 
without public acknowledgment; (3) IWN targets, attack of which would be 
most effective in inhibiting particular DRV military capabilities; (h) course 
of action likely to bring about cessation of DRV support for the conflicts in 
Laos and South Vietnam; (5) action most likely to deter communist attacks on 
various parts of Asia in the event of a large-scale communist reaction to 
attacks on ITOI; (6) the extent to which the United States could counter such 
reactions, using only air and naval operations and different ordnance com- 
binations; and (7) modifications needed in cur-rent contingency plans to pro- 
vide for U.S. responses depending "primarily upon air activities rather 
than the intervention of substantial U.S. ground forces." 25/ 

The work of the study group resulted in an interim report on 1 March 
196k, Just prior to Secretary McNamara.'s and CJCS Taylor *s visit to South 
Vietnam. This they carried with them in the form of a summary analysis 
of the group *s findings. During a brief stopover in Honolulu, these find- 
ings and the issues raised by the Secretary's memorandum to the JCS were 
discussed. Particular emphasis was given to the possible advantage to be 
derived from converting the ciurrent operations into an "overt Vietnamese 
program with participation by /the/ U.S. as required to obtain adequate 
results." 26/ 

C. Study Group Analysis of Proposed Actions 

The study group had given considerable attention to over U. S. 
actions against North Vietnam. Its analysis was based on a concept of ex- 
ploiting "North Vietnamese concern that their industrialization achieve-^ 
ments might be wiped out or could be defended (if at all) only at the price 
of Chicom control" and of danonstrating "that their more powerful communist 
allies would not risk their own interests for the sake of North^ Vietnam." 
The actions it proposed were aimed at accomplishing five objectives: (1) 
induce North Vietnam to curtail its support of the Viet Cong in South 
Vietnam; (2) reduce the morale of the Viet Cong; (3) stiffen the Khanh 
government and discourage moves toward neutralism.; (h) show the world that 
we will take strong measures to prevent the spread of communismi and (5) 
strengt.hen morale in Asia. However, the study group cautioned that public 
.Justification of our actions and Its- expressed rationale must be based^pri- 
marily upon the fact of Northern support for and direction of the war in 
the South in violation of the independence of South Vietnam." It then 
outlined a series of public infoimational, domestic political, and inter- 
national diplomatic steps desirable for establishing this Justification, 27/ 

In seeking to achieve the objective cited" above, the study group 
suggested military actions with the best potential and raised some vital 
policy issues. In ascending order of the degree of national commitment, 
the study group believed each would entail, the military actions were as 

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follows: (l) "deploy to Thailajid, South Vietnam, Laos and else^<rheTe the 
forces, sea, air and land, required to counter a North Vietnamese or 
Chicom response of the largest likely order"; (2) "initiate overt air 
reconnaissance activities as a means of dramatizing North Vietnamese in- 
volvement"; beginning with high-level flights and following with low-level 
missions; (3) ^'tai<:e limited air or ground action in Cambodia and Laos, 
including hot pursuit across the Cambodian border and limited operations 
across the Laos border"; (h) "blockade Haiphong," which would "have drama- 
tic political effect because it is a recognized military action that hits 
at the sovereignty of North Vietnam and suggests strongly that we may 
plan to go further"; (5) "establish a limited air defense capability 
around Saigon"; and (6) conduct air strikes on key North Vietnamese LOC's, 
infiltrator training camps, key industrial complexes, and POL storage. 
It is important to note that the order of commitment perceived in early 
I96U was considerably different from the order which most observers would 
assign to such actions at the time of this writing. The ground force 
deployments (item l) were primarily deterrent deployments to Thailand, on 
the model of those made during the I96I-62 Laotian crisis. Blockading 
(item h) was considered a low- commitment, low-risk action through most of 
I96U. Significantly, the last set of actions "in any number" was cited as 
iraplying "a U.S. commitment to go all the way if necessary." Thus, the group 
cautioned that before embarking on such steps the Administration should con- 
sider how far it would be willing to go in the event of possible reactions. 
For example, how long woiad we persist "in defiance of international pres- 
sures for a cease-fire and conference"? Or, how far would we go, either 
within the proposed concept or by escalating beyond it, in continuing mili- 
tary pressures if the DRV did not comply -- or if it decided to escalate? 28/ 

Although warning of the need to be prepared "to follow through 
against Co]:i}munist China if necessary," the study group estimated that 
neither China nor the Soviet Union would intervene militarily, other than 
to supply equipment. In view of these estimates and the study group's . . 
basic assu^nption of DRV sensitivity to industrial losses, its assessments 
of the likely outcomes of the. actions it discussed are significant. Assert- 
ing that pressures against North Vietnam were "no substitute for successful 
counterinsurgency in South Vietnam," the group listed the probable positive 
gains: (l) U.S. action could demonstrate U.S. power and determination, along 
with restraint, to Asia and the world at large; (2) U.S. action would lead 
to some reduction in Viet Cong morale; and (3) U.S. action if carefully 
planned and executed might improve our negotiating position over what it 
would othervfise be. (The group saw negotiation as "virtually inevitable.") 
However, it then countered with the following judgment: 

"It is not likely that North Vietnam would (if it could) call 
off the war in the South even though U.S. actions would in time 
have serioi^s economic and political impact. Overt action against 
North Vietnam would be unlikely to produce reduction in Viet Cong 
activity sufficiently to make victory on the gro\and possible in 
South Vietnam unless accompanied by new U.S. bolstering actions 
in South Vietnara and considerable improvement in the government 
there. .The most to be expected would be reduction of North Viet- 
nam.ese support of the Viet Cong for a while and, thus, the gaining 
of some time and opportunity by the government of South Vietnam to 

improve itself." 29 / 

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D. McNamara Ap;ainst Overt Pressures 

mien he returned from his visit to South Vietnam, Secretary McNamara 
recommended against either the United States or the GVIJ undertaking overt 
actions against North Vietnam "at this time." One compelling reason^ was 

. General Khanh's expressed wish not to engage in overt operations until 

♦ a firmer GW political base had been established, but there were others 

as well. FiX. McNamara regarded such actions as "extremely delicate... - 
both from the military and political standpoints," because of specific 
problems. These were identified as: (l) the problem of justifying such ac- 
tions; (2) the problem of "communist escalation"; and (3) the problem of 
pressures for premature negotiations. Moreover, he stated the judgment 
that the practical range of our overt options did not permit assured achieve 
ment of our practical objectives. In identifying these, he drew a distinc- 
tion sirailar to that made by the interagency study group -- between the 

J stated objective of eliminating Hanoi's control of the VC insurgency and 

the "practical" objectives of "collapsing the morale and the self-assurance 

i ' of the Viet Cong cadres... and bolstering the morale of the lOianh regime." 32 

>Jhat Mr. McNamara did recommend for military actions outside South 
Vietnam reflected, the contemporary concerns over Laos. Prior to his visit, 
the increased WA activity in eastern Laos had prompted several recommenda- 
tions for military measui^es to thvrart new communist territorial gains in 
that country and to interrupt the flow of men and materiel into South Viet- 
naia along the Laotian infiltration routes. In particular, elements within 
the Department of Defense urged efforts to lift existing restrictions on 
cross-border pursuit of engaged forces into Laos, including accompaniment 
of GVIT air and ground forces by U.S. advisory persorjiel. They also sought 
authorization for both G-VTI and U,S. aircraft to overfly Laos for reconnais- 
sance purposes. 3l/ The JCS urged low-level reconnaissance flights over 
Laos as advantageous both for collecting badly needed, intelligence and 
for visibly displaying U.S. power. 32/ The State Departraent recommended 
deploying twelve F-lOO's to Thailand, with a view toward its potential 
deterrence and. signalling impacts on communist activities in Laos. 33/ 
On his return from South Vietnam, two of the actions for which Secretary 
McNamara sought Presidential authority dealt with activities affecting 
Laos: (l) (Recommendation ll) "hot pursuit" and small-scale operations 
across the Laotian border by GVIT ground forces "for the purpose of border 
control" and "continued high-level U.S. overflights" of the border; and 
(2) (Recommendation 12) preparations to be ready "to initiate the full 
range of Laotian and Cambodian border control actions" vrithin 72 hours. 3k/ 

Actions recommended by the Secretary to provide measures aimed direct- 
ly at North Vietnam (Recommendation 12) fell into two categories: (l) 
preparation for "retaliatory actions," defined to include "overt high^^and/ 
or low level reconnaissance flights .. .over North Vietnam" as well as tit- 
for-tat" bombing strikes and commando-type raids; and (2) planjning and 
preparations "to be in a position on 30 days' notice to initiate the ./sic/ 
program of 'Graduated Overt Military Pressure' against North Vietnam," 
The wording of the latter recommendation is notable because, at the^time, 
there apparently v.^as no planned overt "program" in existence; the discus- 
sion of overt pressures appended to the Secretary's report was considerably 
less than even a recommendation for such a program-. The concept of retali- 
atory actions vras more explicitly defined, but here too, it was apparent 

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that important q.uestions like, "Retaliation for what?" and. "Under what 
circumstances?" had. yet to be answered clearly. The scenario described in 
the report's appended, "illustrative Program" of retaliatory pressure seemed 
to mix elements appropriate for a continuous program of milite.ry actions 
against TTorth Vietnam with those suitable as tlt-for-tat response to speci- 
fic provocations. 35/ 

Each of the Secretary's recommendations was approved by President 
Johnson at a National Security Council meeting on 17 March, with the direc- 
tive for all agencies "to proceed, energetically" in executing them. 36/ 
Subsequent planning activities by different implementing agencies indicate 
that they did not share a common viev7 of the policy implications and assump- 
tions contained in these recommendations. 


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III. Different. Policy Perceptions in Planning 

A • Two basic approaches: JCS and St3.te-ISA 

The principal planning agencies responding to the President's 
directive regarding Reconmiendations 11 and 12 were the Joint Chiefs of 
Staff and the Department of State together wi-*-h OSD/iSA^ and the two ef- 
forts took rather different approaches. The JCS respond.ed literally to 
the instructions and tasked CINCPAC to prepare an action prograjn of bor- 
der control and retaliatory operations with 72-houi' responsiveness and 
one of "graduated overt military pressure by GYN and U.S. forces" against 
North Vietnam with 30-day responsiveness. The JCS preparation for near- 
term implementation of these recommendations went beyond the usual con- 
tingency planning as indicated by their instruction that CINCPAC 's plan 
"permit sequential implementation" of the three actions. 3?/ The JCS 
approved the CINCPAC submission^ as OPLAiN 37-64, on 1? April 1964. 38/ 

The State-ISA planning activity proceeded under the apparent 
belief that the actions included in Secretary McNamara's Recommendation^ 
12 were approved as contingency options, one or more or none of which might 
be selected for implementation at some time in the future. In fact. State 
believed the Secretary's categories of action were not in keeping \7ith 
likely developments -- "that /cross-border/ actions against Cambodia and 
Laos are d,epend.ent heavily on the political position in these coiontries 
at the time, and that, in general, it seem.s more likely that we would wish 
to hold off in hitting Cambodia until we had gone ahead hard against North 
Vietnam itself .. .there appear to be reasons not to open up other theaters 
until we have made clear that Noi'th Vietnam is the main theater and have 
not really started on it." Further, it questioned the utility of tit- 
for-tat retaliatory actions because of (l) the difficulty of responding 
in kind, or in a fitting manner, to the most likely -- terrorist -- vari- 
ety of VC provocations and (2) their inappropriateness for conveying "the- 
picture of concerted and steadily rising pressures that reflect complete 
U.S. determination to finish the job." 39/ Accordingly, the State-ISA 
effort began by developing a political scenario d.esigned to accommodate 
only the graduated military pressures referred to in Recommendation 12. 
These were divided into three major categories: (l) covert GVN action 
against North Vietnam with covert U.S. support; (2) overt GVN action with 
covert U.S. support; and (3) overt joint GVI^ and U.S. action. The two 
categories involving overt activities were conceived of as possible future 
developments, contingent upon a Presidential decision that clearly had. 
not been made. ho[ 

B. Different Approaches: Perceptions of the Strategic Problem 
in Southeast Asia 

The differences in approach taken in the two planning efforts can- 
not be explained simply by the obvious military and. political division of 
labor. It is clear from documents of the period that there was consider- 
able coordination between the two groups, with the JCS planners looking 
to State and ISA for political guidance and the latter group looking to 
the forraer for recommendations for 8.ppropriate m3,litary actioiis. More 
fLUidajuental was the existence of different perceptions of the strategic 

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M I I _ t yi , ^ ^ , III ' ' ' 



f problem in Southeast Asia and different assumptions as to how the United 
States Govermnent should proceed to achieve its policy goals. During 
the early months of 1964, these are well illustrated in the different 
approaches taken to the problem of determining the extent and implica- 
tions of the movement of men and supplies through Laos. 

At the end of 1963 and early in 1964, there was general agreement 
among all Washington agencies that we lacked adequate information con-^ 
cerning the nature and magnitude of whatever movement of men and materiel 
was occurring along the Laotian infiltration routes. For example, citing 
the "lack of clarity" on the "role of external intrusion" in South Vietnam, 
Walt Rostow urged William Sullivan on the eve of his March visit to attempt 
to "come back from Saigon with as lucid and agreed a picture" as possible 
on the extent of the infiltration and its influence on the Viet Cong. 41/ 
A few days later, the Defense Intelligency Agency informed Secretary 
McNamara that "certain intelligence gaps" were- "related primarily to the 
types^ and amounts of weapons and materiel coming into South Vietnam, 

the number of Viet Cong personnel infiltrating into South Vietnam 

k2/ To alleviate this situation, the JCS favored such measures as 
ground probes into Laos by GVTT reconnaissance teams and low-level recon- 
naissance flights over the trail areas by GVTT and U.S. aircraft. The 
State Department, supported by OSD/iSA, opposed such operations as 
potentially damaging to our relations with the Laotian government. 

In supporting its recommendations and in its comments on State-ISA 
proposals, the JCS argued that an integrated approach should be taken to 
the seciirity of Southeast Asia, with our actions in Laos closely related 
to those taken on behalf of South Vietnam. They saw the key problem for 
all of Southeast Asia as the DRV*s aggressive intent. As they stated, 
"the root of the problem is in North Vietnam and must be dealt with 
there." ksj Moreover, they felt that reconnaissance operations into 
and over Laos were justified because they saw Laotian sec-urity as dependent 
on that of South Vietnam. "Laos," they argued, "would not be able to 
endure the establishj^ent of a communist -- or pseudo neutralist ~- state 
on its eastern flank." They criticized our "self-imposed restrictions" 
as tending to make the task in Vietnam "more complex, time-consiming, and 
in the end, more costly" and for possibly signalling "irresolution to our 
enemies." khj Accordingly, they implied that the United States should 
convince the Laotian Premier of the need to take direct action against the 
Viet Minh infiltration through low-level reconnaissance and other cross- 
border operations -- but above all, to carry out these actions in order to . 
impress the DRV with our resolve to deny its insurgents a sanctuary. In 
the specific context of recommending these kind of actions, they stated 
"that the time has come to lift the restrictions which limit the effective- 
ness of our mili-^ary operations," 45/ 

The State-ISA policy view also regarded Laos and Vietnam as parts of 
the overall Southeast Asian problem, but in early 19^4 their conception 
of how U.S. objectives might be achieved extended beyond the need to thwart 
the communist guerrilla threat. In this view, policy success meant 


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"bolstering the capability of all free countries in the area to resist 
coimnunist encroachment." This required cooperating with the sovereign 
governments of these countries and. being careful not to erode their 
authority or contribute to their instability, ^6/ Thus^ instead of cross- 
border groTond probes or low-level reconnaissance missions, which might 
prove politically embarrassing to the shaky regime of Laotian Premier 
Souvanna Phouma^ the State-ISA view favored extending the mission of 
Laotian ground reconnaissance teams ^ which had been sponsored covertly by 
the- CIA with the Premier's support, ]vjj Moreover, this approach to policy 
included the view that, within the scope of broad regional policy goals, 
solutions to problems in individual countries should be tailored to the 
unique political context of each country. Insofar as Laos was concerned, 
this meant not only being sensitive to Souva-nna Phouiaa's political status, 
but also adhering to the letter and spirit of the 1962 Geneva Accords, on 
which it was conceded the structure of a stable political future must be 
erected. In the State-ISA view, the only alternative to this approach 
would be an eventual large-scale deployment of U.S. ground forces to drive 
out the Pathet Lao/NVA forces. U8/ 

The meaning of these different overall policy conceptions for the 
planning processes of April and early May I96U was that the U.S. Government 
was faced with a dilemjna — whether to take remedial military actions which 
might ease the short-term problems in South Vietnam or whether to dramatize 
our commitment to all of Southeast Asia with the long-term soliition in mind. 
The dilemma was particularly complex because elements of one alternative 
were needed to enable progress toward the other. Specifically, three 
accomplishments were considered vital to oirr long-term objectives in South- 
east Asia: (l) to convince Hanoi, whose direction of the insiirgencies was 
certain, of our resolve to prevent the success of its aggressive policies; 

(2) to maintain the cooperation of Souvanna Phouiria and the Laotian neu- 
tralist political structure (which also required the support of the Geneva 
members) and thereby preserve the framework of the 1962 Geneva Accords; and 

(3) to build a stable, effective political authority in South Vietnam. 
Vital to the third accomplishment v^as our major short-term objective — of 
permanently reversing the trends in the guerrilla war in South Vietnam. 
These, in t-urn, were believed to be sustained in their currently deterio- 
rating direction by the infiltration of men and supplies from North Vietnam. 
The possibility was recognized that determining the extent of this infil- 
tration and eliminating it, if necessary, might be a decisive element in a 
solution of the short-term problem. 


However, the short-term solution involved potential threats to the 
long-term policy elements: the most effective measures for obtaining the 
necessary intelligence involved actions likely to alienate Souvanna and 
damage the politxcal structure in Laos. Yet, some of this sam.e kind of 
intelligence would be impoz^r.ant in convincing the Premier of the need to 
permit low- level reconnaissance flights and other kinds of operations. 
On the other hand, the impact of the infiltration on the war in South 
Vietnam was far from certain. For example. Ambassador Unger reported in 
December that the recent use of the Laotian corridor was not extensive 


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enough to have influenced significe.ntly the then intensive VC efforts 
in South Vietnam, ks/ Hence, if the desired, military operations were 
undertaken without Souvanna's approval, and. it vras discovered that the 
infiltration vras not really crucial to the v^ar in the South, a long-term 
interest would have been compromised without receiving any real short- 
term ad,vantage • 

To further complicate the picture, direct strikes against North Viet- 
nam were being advocated as a means to obtain both long and short-term 
goals- On the one hand, overt military actions had been recommended to 
convince the DRV of our resolve. On the other hand, they were proposed 
as a means to force Hanoi to stop the flow of material assistance to the 
South. 50/ Moreover, it was generally agreed within policy circles that , 
such actions must be supported by public disclosures of the kind of con- 
vincing evidence of Hanoi's support for the VC that the Administration 
did. not yet possess. 

By the end of March, one aspect of policy puzzle had been resolved. 
On 17 March, Ambassador Lodge reported a long conversation betvreen General 
Khanli and a Laotian representative, with Souvanna's permission, at which 
a working agreement between military forces of the two governments was 
obtained. Khanh and, Phoumi Nousavan, Laotian rightist military comman- 
der, arranged to resume diplomatic relations between the two countries 
during that week and came to other more specific agreements as follows: 

1. Laotians agreed to allow South Vietnam to have 
free passage in Southern Ls.os, to create a combined 
Laotian-Vietnajnese staff to use all the bases including 
Tchepone, and. to conduct bombardment vzith unmarked T-28 
planes (in the areas vrhere FAR (Phoumi's) forces were 

2. The lO-kilometer limit on hot pursuit is abro- 
gated; comm3.nd.o raid.s and sabotage can be undertaken 
without limit by combined. laotian and South Vietnaanese 
units; South Vietnamese officers will serve the Laotian 
units to provide ad.ded leadership, ^l/ 

Previously, President Johnson had indicated approval of cross-border ground 
penetrations into Laos "along any lines which can be worked out between 
KhanJi and Rioumi with Souvanna's endorsement." Although asking Secretaries 
Rusk and McNamara to develop a joint recommendation concerning U.S. parti- 
cipation in air strikes within La.os, the Presid.ent went on to state a posi- 
tion consonant vrith that of the State-ISA viev/: 

"My f?rst thought is that it is important to seek 
support from Souvanna Phouma and to build, a stronger case 
before we take action which might have only limited mili- 
tary effect and could trigger wider Communist action in f ■ 
Laos." ^ 

C. Planninp; Overt Actions on Contingency Basis (Aipril-May) 

The planning efforts c:^ April and early May attempted to accommodate 
the remaining contradictory aspects of the policy dilemma. On the same 


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day he signed NSAJ-I 288 approving Secretary McNamara'a visit report, the 
President sent the first of tvo closely spaced messages to Ambassador 
Lodge that could have set the tone for the planning ahead. (Presumably 
the President's views -were communicated to the principal officials in 
' the agencies involved in planning for Southeast Asia.) Commenting on 
Lodge's critique of the Mcrlamara report, he indicated favor for the 
Ambassador's expressed preference for "carrot and stick" pressures short 
of overt military action, and specifically "reserve/dJ7 judgment on overt 
U.S. mieasures against Horth Vietnam." 53/ Three days later he cabled 
confirmation that actions being studied with ITorth Vietnam as a target 
were regarded strictly as contingency planjiing. ^k/ 

Principal focus for the planning during April was OSD/iSA, with 
assistance from the Far Eastern Bureau and the Vietnam Committee, in 
the Department of State, and from the JCS. During the first three weeks 
of April, it developed three or four versions of scenarios of political 
actions "to set the stage and to develop support both at home and abroad" 
for different categories of military action against North Vietnam. Ini- 
tially, the categories, and their scenarios, were regarded separately, 
although the first "Covert SVIT action against the North (with U.S. covert 
support)," was recognized as the stage of political-military activity in 
which the United States was currently engaged. The others, (l) covert 
U.S. support of overt GW aerial mining and air strike operations and 

(2) overt joint U.S. and GVN aerial reconnaissance, naval displays, 
naval bombardments and air attacks, vrould necessarily have to follow, 55/ 

^ In subsequent versions, the planning evolved more explicitly toward a 

continuous scenario in three sequential phases. 

In each version, however, the "current" scenario included such 
political measures as: (l) a speech by General Khanh stating GVlM-war 
aims; (2) a briefing for "friendly" senators and congressmen on our 
aims in Southeast Asia and the problem of DRV directions of the VC; 

(3) public explanations of U.S. policy toward South Vietnam; and {k) 
diplomatic discussions with the United Kingdom and the North Atlantic 
Council. Each of the second scenarios, which came to be characterized 
by GVN-USAF/fARJ.'IGATE air operations, contained sijuilar actions but placed 
emphasis on political initiatives that would surface in Saigon rather 
than in Washington, "so as to maintain the credibility of the sovereignty 
of the GVN." This stage also included such measures as: (l) another trip 
to Saigon by Secretary McNamara for the specific purpose of obtaining 
General Khanh 's agreement to begin overt GW actions against the North; 
(2) consultations with Thailand and the Philippines; (3) Presidential 
consultations with key congressional leaders; and (4) public release of 

a new State Department VJhite 'Paper on North Vietnamese involvement in the 
insurgency. Each of the final scenarios, which came to be associated with 
our overt responses to DRV/CHICOM escalations, included diplomatic and 
political preparations for direct U.S. actions. Significantly, the 
scenarios also incorporated initiatives leading to an international con- 
ference on Vietnam at Geneva. 56/ 

The evolution toward a continuous sequential scenario reflects the 
influence of the JCS. Their response to. the 31 March drarb: (l) called 

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for approximate time-phasing of the various steps in "the scenario"; 
^ (2) urged a fusion- of the scenario with CINCPAC operational planning 

(OPLM 37/6^); and (3) attempted to incorporate Secretary McNamara's 
requested "border control operations into the political actions recom- 
mended for the current time period. Moreover, the JCS developed a 
"political/military scenario" for graduated overt military pressure 
against North Vietnam, as called for in Secretary McNamara's Recommenda- 
tion No. 12, 16 March I96U. Within this scenario the JCS included 
"expanded U.S. overt military pressures" against the DRV. In effect, 
they outlined a continually intensifying program of military pressures 
■which increasingly involved U.S. military participation. ^7/ 

Complementing the thrust of JCS advice, the next draft, 8 April, 
removed current political actions from the list of political scenarios 
and treated them in a section entitled "Steps V/hich Should he Taken 
■ Nov." The current scenarios included: (l) GWI/FARIvIGATE graduated oVert 
military pressures against North Vietnam; (2) separate Laotian and 
Cambodian border control actions; (3) separate GVN retaliatory actions 
against North Vietnam; and {h) overt U.S. graduated military pressures 
against North Vietna^n. The detailed scenario for the GVTT/FARICtATE opera- 
tions was reviewed by Mr. McNaughton with William Sullivan of the Depart- 
ment of State and Michael Forrestal of the Wiite House staff. The 
scenario version resulting from this conference, contains the JCS- 
recommended time-phasing, in terms of D-Day minus X approximations. It 
^^ also incorporates specific military actions recommended by the JCS sub- 

T mission. Apparently, only this scenario and the detailed description 

of "Steps V/hich Should be Taken Now" were circulated for comment by other 
agencies. Apparently, this draft provided the basis for scenario dis- 
cussions held in Saigon among Secretary Rusk, Assistant Secretary William 
Bundy, CJCS Wheeler, Ambassador Lodge and certain military and civilian 
members of the Country Team on 19-20 April 196^. 

A later version was prepared on 20 April and for\^^arded to the Chairman, 
Joint Chiefs of Staff, on 23 April. Significantly, it contained only three 
scenarios: I. "Unccimnitting" steps which should be tal^en now; II. GVN/ 
FARJ'ICtATE graduated overt pressures on DRV; III. Contingency Plan for U.S. 
overt response to DRV/CHICOM reactions. It also carried the following 
comment concerning their relationship: 

"It should be noted that carrying out Scenario I does 
not necessarily conmiit the U.S. to commence Scenario II; and 
that Scenario II may be carried out without requiring resort 
to Scenario III, However, since Scenario II cannot be launched 
without ovT being prepared to carry out Scenario III, you should 
assume that it may be necessary'- for the D-Day of Scenario III to 
occur as soon as 10 days after the D-Day of Scenario II. Scenario 
III is a contingency plan of action which we would contemplate 
putting into effect only if the DRV's or Chicom's reaction to 
Scenario II vras judged by the President to require overt U.S. 
response." ^8/ 

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At the Saigon meeting^ the concerns of the local officials for 
initiating some immediate measures to relieve the situation in South 
Vietnam came into conflict with the longer-range scenario approach. 
Ambassador Lodge "questioned the wisdom both of massive publicity and 
of massive destruction actions before a well -planned and well executed 
diplomatic attempt had been made to persuade ]WN to call off the 
^^•" .59/ He \v-ent on to propose communicating to Hanoi^ through a 
third-country "interlocutor/^ our intent to embark on a "carrot and 
stick program/^ combining the threat of increasing air strikes with the 
granting of some assistance to the DRV, His supporting rationale ex- 
plicitly cautioned that the VC reaction to large-scale measures against 
the North might be violent and damaging to the South Vietnamese economy. 
More significant may have been the fact that the "large-scale meas-ures" 
proposed in the scenario came quite late in the second stage, a stage 
that may not have been entered -- at least for some time. 

What the Arabassador had in mind regarding a carrot and stick approach 
was not entirely nevr. It had first been proposed in his memorandum to 
Governor Harriman on 30 October 1963, It was raised again in cables to 
the ^/Jhite Kouse on 20 February and 15 March 196^. 60/ Initially pro- 
posed in the context of a scheme to encourage the neutrality of North 
Vietnam, the carrot and stick concept envisioned a secret contact with 
Hajioi at which an ultiraatum would be delivered demanding the DRV's 
cessation of support for the VC insui'gency. Rewards for compliance would 
. include our making available food imports, to help alleviate the known 

I ( shortages affecting North Vietnam in late 1963 (and early '6U). In the 

case of non-compliance, we would undertake previously threatened punitive 
strikes to which we would not admit publicly. Wliat was new in the pro- • 
posal of 19 April were: (l) the suggestion for using a third coimtry 
intermediary and (2) that one element of the "carrot" might be ovo: pledge 
to withdraw some U.S. personnel from South Vietnam. The latter suggestion 

' was criticized by V?'illiam Bundy on the basis that we didn^t yet know how 

many and what types of American military personnel were needed in South 
Vietnam. Lodge countered with the comiaent that "it would be very hard 
indeed for Ho Chi Minh to provide a salable package for his own people 
and for other communist nations unless we can do something that Hanoi 
can point to, even though it would not be a real concession on oiir 
part." 61/ 

The ensuing discussion, on a variety of points, provided an indica- 
tion of some of Secretary Rusk's paramoiTnt concerns, which may shed 
important light on later policy decisions. For example, he sought 
opinions on the likely GW reaction to a Geneva Conference specifically 
for Laos. In another context, he stated "his concern that the extent of 
infiltration and other provisions of support from the North be proven to 
the satisfaction of our own public, of our allies, and of the neutralists." 
During a discussion of the availability of other Asian troops to fight in 
Vietnam, Secretary Rusk stated "that we are not going to take on the m^asses 
of Red China with cvx limited manpovrer in a conventional war." He also 
stated the opinion that the Chinese would not opt to intervene militarily 

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unless they felt they coiild count on Soviet support and that \ie could bring 
great economic pressu-re to bear on the Chinese through our allies. While 
expressing the opinion that Hanoi's renunciation of the Viet Cong v/ould 
"take the heart out of the insurgency/' he indicated doubt that elimination 
of North Vietnam's industrial targets would have much of an adverse impact 
on it. Moreover 5 the Secretary acknowledged the possibility that such an 
act "would have forfeited the 'hostage' which we hold in the North. . .with- 
out markedly affecting the fight against the "Viet Cong, at least in the 
short run." 62/ 

I ' The major immedi?.te outcome of the meeting was a decision to go ahead 

with the suggestion to arrange for the visit of a third country interlocu- 
tor to Hanoi. On 30 April, Secretary Rusk visited Ottawa and obtained an 

A . . agreement from the Canadian Government to include such a mission among the 

instructions for its new I.C.C. representative. According to the agreement, 
the new official, J. Blair Seaborn, vrould: (l) try to determine Ho's atti- 
tude tov^ard Chinese support, whether or not he feels over-extended, and 
his aims in South Vietnam; (2) stress U.S. determination to see its objec- 

, tives in South Vietnam achieved; (3) emphasize the limits of U.S. aims in 

i Southeast Asia and that it wanted no perm^anent bases or installations there; 

• and (k) convey U.S. willingness to assist North Vietnam with its economic 

problems. Other results of the Saigon meeting consisted of a variety of 
actions recommended by Secretary Rusk. Of these, only four were related 

!. to the issue of military pressures against North Vietnam. Tliese were recom- 

mendations to (1) engage "more flags" in efforts directly supporting the 

I GVN; (2) deploy a carrier task force to establish a permanent U.S. naval 

presence at Cam Ranh Bay; (3) initiate anti-Junk operations that v/ould "inch 
northward" along the Vietnam coast; and {k) enlist SKA.TO countries in an 
effort to isolate the DRV from economic or cultural relations with the Free 
World. 63/ 

'^' Conflict of Short and Long Term Views: Caution Prevails 

During the last week of April and the early weeks of May, the con- 
tention between those urging prompt measures and. those counseling a delib- 
erate, cautious pacing of our actions continued. Eor example, Walt Rostow 
urged Secretary Rusk to consider how difficult it would be to make a cred- 
ible case in support of actions to force Hanoi's adherence to the Geneva 
Accords if political deterioration took place in Laos and South Vietnam. 
Predicting such an eventuality in the months, he implied that the 
necessary actions should be taken soon. 6k/ Similarly, Ambassador Lodge 
continued to advocate prompt implementation of his carrot and stick approach 
including, if VC provocations vrarranted, a well-timed reprisal just prior 
to Commissioner Seaborn 's arrival in Hanoi. These views vrere communicated 
to Secretary McNamara and William Sullivan during their visit to Saigon, 
12-13 May, and confirmed in a cable to the President three days later. 65/ 

The JCS commented on the final version of the State-ISA political- 
military scenarios and criticized, them for not including the more immediate 
actions req,uested in NSiU-I 288: namely, border control and retaliatory 

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operations. Making a distinction between border operations already 
arranged for (Recommendation ll) and those intended by Recommendation 
12, they advocated incorporating in the second-stage scenario retalia- 
tory operations and overt military pressures against North Vietnam. 
They also -urged including border control operations of battalion-size 
I or larger, low-level reconnaissance by U.S. aircraft, and WAF air 

^ operations in Laos that include strikes on bridges and armed route 

reconnaissance. In justifying such actions, they stated: 


j "...military operations against the DRV to help stabilize 

the situation in the Republic of Vietnam, and other opera- 

* tions planned to help stabilize the situation in Laos, 

involve the attack of the same target systems and to a 

\ considerable extent the same targets. Assistance in the 

achievement of the objective in the Republic of Vietnam 
through operations against NVII could like\dse have a 
similar result in Laos, offering the possibility of a 

. favorable long-term solution to the insurgency problem 

] in Southeast Asia." 66/ 

However, the deliberate, cautious approach continued to hold sway. 
Secretary McNconara^s trip to Saigon, called for early in the second- 
4 stage scenario as a means to obtain General Khanh^s agreement to initiate 

overt operations against the North, did not include this purpose. On the 
contrary, a week prior to the visit General Khanh had raised with 
Ambassador Lodge the issue of putting his country on a fully mobilized 
war footing — accompanying it with a declaration that further inter- 
ference by Hanoi in South Vietnamese affairs would bring reprisals -- 
and Secretary McNamara was instructed to impress upon Khanh that such 
drastic measures and threatening gestures were unnecessary at the 
m^oment. 6?/ More important, it vras stressed that the GVN "systematic- 
ally and aggressively demonstrate to the world that the subversion of 
the South is directed from Hanoi," through sending "capable ambassadors ■ 
to the important capitals of the world to convince governments of this 
fact." Moreover, while assuring General KharJi that ovx commitment to 
his country and Laos "does not rule out the use of force. . .against North 
Vietnam," the Secretary was advised to remind him that "such actions 
must be supplementary to and not a substitute for successful counter- 
insurgency in the South" -- and that "we do not intend to provide 
military support nor undertake the inilita.ry objective of 'rolling back 
communist control in North Vietnam." 63/ 

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IV. Dealing -with the Laotian Crisis 

A, L aos in Danger: "Pressure Planning" 

In mid-May 196^, a ne\r factor entered the policy- shaping, process — 
a factor which cast a shadow of crisis management over the entire decision 
making environment. On 17 May, pro-communist "^orces in Laos hegan an of- 
fensive which led to their control of a significant portion of the Plaine 
des Jarres. On the 21st , the United States obtained Souvaniia Phouma's 
permission to conduct low-level reconnaissance operations over the occu- 
pied areas. 69/ For several weeks the offensive threatened to destroy 
the security of the neutralist-rightist position — and with it the polit- 
ical underpinning of U.S. -Laotian policy. These developments lent a greater 
sense of urgency to the arguments of those advisers favoring prompt meas- 
ures to strengthen the U.S. position in Southeast Asia. 

The most avid of those urging prompt action were the JCS. On 19 May 
they had recommended a new, more intensive series of covert operations 
for the four -month Phase II under OPLATJ 3^-A. 70,/ On the 23rd, referring 
to their earlier recommendations to incorporate larger border control and 

( retaliatory operations and overt graduated pressures in the next-phase 

scenario, they expressed opinions on the urgency of preparing for such 
actions. Particular emphasis was placed on the need to consult with the 
GW so that the necessary training and joint operational preparations could 
take place. The JCS prodded State with the comment, "The Department of 

i State should take the lead on this but as yet has not," at the same time 

recalling that the operations in question had been provided for under the 
. approved CIKCPAC OPLAl^I 37-6U (17 April 196U) . In another plea for prompt 

' implementation, they argued that since these operations were to be pla,usi- ^ 

bly deniable by the United States, "efforts to create the necessary cli- 
mate of opinion should not be, of necessity, too time consuxoing." 71/ 

Figuring prominently in the retaliatory operations and the graduated 
pressures advocated by the JCS against North Vietnam were air strikes -- 
some by the VNAF alone and some in cooperation with USAF/FARMGATE and other 
U.S. air units. What they thought these kinds of operations could accom- 
plish varied according to the targets struck and the composition of the 
attacking force. Assimiing an air campaign ordered for the purpose of: 

(1) causing the DRV to stop supporting the Viet Cong and Pathet Lao and 

(2) reducing its capability to renew such support, the JCS perceived the 
following categories of accomplishment: Category A - They believed that 
undertaking "armed reconnaissance along highvrays leading to Laos," strik- 
ing "airfields identified with supporting" the insurgents, and destroying 
"supply and aimaunition depots, petroleum storage and military (installa- 
tions) connected with PL/VC support" would result in "a reduction of DRV 
supp ort . " Categ o ry B - They believed that str:king the "remaining airfields." 
destroying "important railroad and highway bridges" and "depots in northern 
F\ffl," conducting aerial mining operations, and bombing "petroleum storage 

in Hanoi and Haiphong" would result in a reduced *t)RV military capability 
to take action against Laos and the RWJ." Category C - They cited the 
remaining capability for effectively destroying the North Vietnamese in- 
dustrial base. 72 

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In the saiae appraisal, the JCS went on to estimate the time required 
to achieve Q^i damage against the various target categories, using differ- 
ent force combinations in continuous operations . For Category A, they 
. estimated, it would take the YIIAJF alone more than seven months, if they 
could sustain combat operations that long; the VIIAJ' plus FAEl/IGATE B-57 s , 
would require over two months. By using, in addition, U.S. land and 
carrier-based air units readily availg.ble in the Western Ricific, they 
claimed that targets in Category A could be eliminated in only twelve days; 

I those in all categories could be destroyed in k6 days. They added that 

sustaining this destruction on LOC targets would require restrikes con- 
ducted, for an indeterminate period,." 

The JCS were not the only Presidential advisers to sense the urgency 
created by the situation in Laos. Referring to "recent steps with regard 
to bombing operations in La,os and recomiaissance which step up the pace. 
Secretary Rusk cabled Ambassador Lodge to seek suggestions for ways to 
achieve greater solidarity in South Vietnam. He explained that m Wash- 
ing-t^on, the fragility of the situation in South Vietnam was seen as an 
obstacle to further U.S. military involvement in Southeast Asia. As he ^ 
stated, "We need to assure the President that everything humanly possible 
is being done both in Washington and by the government of Vietnam to V^°- 
vide a solid base of determination from which far-reaching decisions could 
proceed." 73/ Lodge's reply reflected a new wrinkle in his usual propo- ^ 
sals for prompt, but carefully masked actions. He expressed the attitude 
that some kind of firm action against North Vietnam by U.S^ and South Viet- 
namese forces was the only way to bring about a significant improvement 
in the GYE effort. 7^4/ This view complemented, an apparently growing be- 
lief among Presid,ential advisers "that additional efforts within South 
Vietnam by the U.S. wild, not prevent further deterioration there. 75/ 

This belief, together with the threat presented by the Pathet^Ls^o 
offensive, led to a resumption of scenario development. However, m the 
. new "crisis management" atmosphere, several new elements affected the proc- 
ess. One was the fact that the latest scenario was prepared as a draft 
memorandum for the President. Another was the expectation that it would 
be presented to and discussed among the principal officials of the parti- 
cipating agencies, serving as an Executive Comraittee of the national Secu- 
rity Council. And finally, the crisis in Laos apparently had focused ad,- 
visory interest praiaarily on one stage — that dealing with overt operations 
against Worth Vietnam. The scenario no longer contained a section d,evoted 
to "uncommitting steps V7hich should be taken now." 76/ The rationale 
behind this shift of emphasis was explained to Ambassador Lodge, an out- 
spoken critic of both the overt approach and the scenario, by Secretary 
Rusk: - • 

- ^ "it is our present view here that /substantial initial 
attacks without acknowledgment/ would simply not be feasi- 
ble. Even if Hanoi itself did not -oublicize them, there 
are enough ICC and. other observers in North Vietnam^wno^ 
. ^ might pick them up and there is also the major possibility . 


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^ of leakage at the South Vietnam end. Thus, publicity seems ^ 

4 almost inevitable to us here for any attack that did signifi- 

cant dexnage . " 77/ 

B. A New Scenario: 30 Days of Sequential Politico-Military Action 

On the same day that the JCS urged that the GVU be consulted regard- 
ing preparations for border control and retaliatory operations , the new 
scenario of political and military actions v/as completed. The scenario 
called for a 30-day sequence of military and political pressures coupled 
with initiatives to enter negotiations with Hanoi (see Table l) . Military 
actions would not start until after "favorable action on a U. S. Con- 
gressional Joint Resolution" supporting U. S. resistance to DRV aggres- 
sions in Southeast Asia. Initially, the strikes would be carried out by 
GVi'J aircraft, but as they progressed, USAF/FARiMGATE and other U. S. air 
units would join in. These "v/ould continue despite negotiations, until 
there was clear evidence that DIorth Vietnam had stopped its subversion 
of the South." The negotiating objectives wovild be to obtain both agree- 
ment and evidence that (l) "terrorism, armed attacks, and armed resis- 
tance stop" and (2) "communications on the networks out of the North are 
conducted entirely in uncoded form." 78/ 

Presented along with the scenario were assessments of likely communist 
reactions and the possible U. S. responses to these moves. The mose likely 
military reactions to the scenario actions were seen as expanded insurgency 
operations, including possible "sizeable infiltration" of North Vietnamese 
ground forces, and a drive toward the Mekong by Pathet Lao and North Viet- 
namese forces. The Soviet Union was expected to intensify its diplomatic^ 
opposition to U. S. policies and China was expected to (l) augment North ' • 
Vietnamese air defense capabilities, and (2) successfully dissuade Hanoi 
from any willingness, (particularly after U. S. air operations began) to 
reduce its support of the Viet Cong. To counter communist reactions, the 
proposal specified in each contingency that intensified operations against 
North Vietnam would be the most effective option. In response to intensi- 
fied insurgency, considered the least intense (though most likely) alterna- 
tive available to the communist powers, the proposal included provision 
for augmenting South Vietnamese forces "by U. S. ground forces prepositioned 
in South Vietnam or on board ship nearby." 

The May 23, 1964 scenario read as follows: (Table l) 

"1. Stall off any 'conference on /Laos or/ Vietnam until 

2. Intermediary (Canadian?) tell North Vietnam in general 
terms that U.S. does not want to destroy the North Vietnam regime 
(and indeed is willing 'to provide a carrot'), but is determined 
to protect .South Vietnam from North Vietnam. 

3. (D-30) Presidential speech in general terms launching 
.^—v * Joint Resolution. 

Up (D-20) Obtain Joint Resolution approving past actions 
and authorizing whatever is necessary with respect to Vietnam. 

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Concurrently: An effort should, be made to 
strengthen the posture in South Vietnam. 
Integrating (interlarding in a single chain 
of command) the South Vietnamese and. U.S. 
military and civilian elements critical to 
pacification J down at least to the district 
level J might be undertaken. 

5. (D-16) Direct CINCPAC to take all prepositioning and. 
logistic actions that can be taken 'auietly' for the D-Day forces 
and. the forces described in I^.ragraph 1? below. 

6. (l)-15) Get Khanh's agreement to start overt South Viet- 
namese air attacks against targets in the North (see D-Day item 15 
below), and ini^orm him of U.S. guarantee to protect South Vietnam 
in the event of North Vietnamese and/or Chinese retaliation. 

7. (D-1^) Consult with Thailand and the Philippines to get 
permission for U.S. deployments; and. consult with them plus U.K., 
Australia, New Zealand, and. Pakistan , asking for their open politi- 
cal support for the und.ertaking and for their participation in 
the re-enforcing action to be und.ertaken in anticipation of North 
Vietnamese and/or Chinese retaliation. 

8. (D-13) Release an e^cpanded 'Jordan Report,' including^ 
recent photography and evid.ence of the communications nets, giving 
full documentation of North Vietnamese supply and direction of 
the Viet Cong. 

9. (D-12) Direct COTCPAC to begin moving forces and making 
specific plans on the assumption that strikes will be mad.e on 
D-Day (see Attachment B"^ in backup materials for deplo^oaents). 

10. (D-10) Khanh makes speech demanding that North Vietnam 
stop aggression, threatening unspecified military action if he 
d.oes not. (He could refer to a * carrot.*) 

11. (D-3) Discussions with Allies not covered in Item 7 

12. (D-3) President informs U.S. public (and thereby North 
Vietnam) that action may come, referring to Khanh speech (item 10 
above) and. declaring support for South Vietnam. 

13. (D-1) Khanh announces that all efforts have failed and 
that attacks are imminent. (Again he refers to limited goal and 
possibly to 'carrot. ' ) . 

Ik. (D-Day) Remove U.S. d.epend.ents. 

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■■*■ ^ ■ ■ 

15/ (D-Bay) Launch first strikes (see Attachment C^-^ for 
targets). Initially^ mine their ports and strike North Vietnam's 
transport and related ability (bridges ^ trains) to move south; 
and then against targets v^hich have maxinun psychological effect 
on the North* s villingness to stop insurgency — POL storage^ 
selected, 8.irfielcls^ barracks/training areas ^ bridges, railroad. 
ya.rds, port facilities, com^auni cat ions, and industries. Initially, 
these strikes vrould be by South Vietnamese aircraft; they could, 
then be orpanded by adding PAffi-GATE, or U.S. aircraft, or any 
combination of them. - . • 

I. 16. (D-Ba^y) CaU. for conference on Vietnam (and go to OTi) . 

' ■ State the limited objective: Not to overthrovr the North Vietnam 

regime nor to destroy the co^ontry, but to stop BRV- directed Viet 
Cong terrorism and resistance to pacification efforts in the 

, South. Essential that it be made^ clear that attacks on the North 

' ' will continue (i.e., no cease-fire) until (a) terrorism, armed 

attacks, and armed resistance to pacification efforts in the 
South stop, and. (b) communications on the netvrorks out of the 
North are conducted entirely in uncod_ed. form." JC)J 

The scena-rio ■^.-.'•as circulated among members of the ExCom and. discussed 
d.iuring their meetings of 2U and 25 May. Apparently, modifications v^ere 
made in the course of these mtcetings, as notations in the SecBef files 
indicate scenario versions of 2^, 25 and 26 May. In addition to the 
assessments that a,ccompanied. the scenario proposal, the discussants had 
available to them an estimate of likely conseq.uences of the proposed ac- 
tions, prepared by the Board of Na,tional Estimates, CIA, with State and 
DIA assistance, and concurred in by the U.S. Intelligence Beard. 80/ 

The national estimate agreed essentially with the proposal's assess- 
ment of Soviet and Chinese reactions and concluded that Hanoi's would, vary 

, ^ with the intensity of the U.S./cWf actions. The national intelligence 

boards believed, that Hanoi "would order the Viet Cong and. Pathet Lao to 
refrain from dramatic new attacks, and might reduce the level of the in- 

j surrections for the moment" in response to U.S. force deployments or GVN- 

, USAF/FAK-rrATE attacks. Tae expected BRV rationale, supported by Peking 

and Moscow, would be to bank on "a ne\-i Geneva Conference or UII action.., 
JtoJ bring a cessation of attacks" and to stabilize communist gains in 
Vietnam and. Laos. agitation of world, opinion v^ould be employed 
to bring on the conference. If attacks on North Vietnam continued, the 
intelligence boards saw Hanoi intensifying its political initiatives, but 
also possibly increasing ^the tempo of the insurrections in South Vietnam 
and Laos." If these tactics failed to produce a settlem.ent "and North 

1 Vietnam began to suffer considerable destruction," the boards estimated: 

"V/e incline to the'viev^ that /bRV leaders/ would lower 
their term.s for a negotiating outcome; they would do so in 
I the interests of preserving their regime and in the expectation 

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of being- able to renew the insurrections in South Vietnam and 
Laos at a later date. There -^ntouM nevertheless be a significant 
danger that they vould fight, believing that the U.S. would still 
not be willing to undertake a major ground war, or that if it 
was, it could ultmately be defeated by the methods which were ■ 
successful against the French." 8l/ 


In its discussion of the problem of compelling Hanoi to halt the VC 
insurgency, the national estimate emphasized that this depended on affect 
ing the will of the DRV leaders. It stressed that the measures called 
for in the scenario "would not seriously affect conmiunist capabilities to 
continue that insurrection," stating that "the primary sources of commu- 
nist strength in South Vietnam are indigenous." On the other hand, it 
predicted that withdrawal of material assistance from North Vietnam would 
badly h-ort the Pathet Lao capability. Because of the crucial importance 

°ifh '^"°i +>.-^^^^' "^^^ estimate argued that the DRV "must understand that 
although the U.S. is not seeking the destruction of the DRV regime, the 
U.b. ^is fully prepared to bring ascending pressures to bear to persuade 
Hanoi to reduce the insurrections." But, while comprehending U.S. pur- 
poses in the early phase of the scenario actions, they may "tend increas- 
ingly to _ doubt the limited character of U.S. ahns" as the scale of the 
attacks increases. The report adds; 

Similarly, the retaliatory measures which Hanoi might 

!5^i|-^^J^°^ ^^ ^°^'^^ Vietnam might maie it increasingly 
dilticiat for the U.S. to regard its objectives as attainable 
by limited means. Thus difficulties of comt)rehension might 
increase on both sides as the scale of action mounted." 82/ 

^' ^^i^£ll2ILSl_§Senar io: "use Force if Necessary" . " , 

At Its meeting on 25 May, the ExCom apparently decided not to retain 

■preq^r^'?^^°fl+^^^°^'^^^ ^^ ^^^ courses of action it would recommend to the 

Z. ^^J^""^- At least, it abandoned the time-phasing aspects of the series 
or dcxions contained in the scenario proposal, and it made explicit its 
purpose_not to embark on a series of moves "aimed at the use of force as 
an ena m itself. 83/ The available evidence is far from conclusive on 
+h +^fr°^^+ ^^^ scenario approach was cast aside, but it seems clear 
tnax tne potential for entering into an escalating conflict in which our 
±3jnited Objectives might become obscured weighed heavily in the decision. 

In addition to the evidence already cited, a strong indication of the 
^xuom s desire to avoid the possibility of escalation is contained in the 
drait memorandum prepared for President Johnson, as a res-alt of the 25 May 
meexing. in this memorandum, it was recommended that the President decide: 

...that the U.S. will use selected and carefully graduated 
military force against Worth Vietnam, under the following con- 
ditions: (1) after appropriate diplomatic end political warning 
and preparation, (2) and unless such warning and preparation — 
in comoination with other efforts — should produce a sufficient 
improvement of non-Communist prospects in South Vietnam and in 
Laos to make military action against North Vietnam urmecessary. " 8k/ 

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The recommendation was based on an explicit assvmiption "that a decision 
to use i^orce if necessary^ backed, by resolute and extensive deployment^ 
and conveyed, by every possible means to our adversaries^ gives the best 
present chance of a^voiding the actual use of such force." Reflecting the 
influence of the national intelligence boards' rationale concerning "U.S. 
preparatory and low-scale action," the ExCom also stated the belief that 
"selective and carefully prepared military action against North Vietnam 
will not trigger acts of terror and military operations by the Viet Cong 
which vrould engulf the Khanh regime." 8^/ VJhat the ExCom meant by "se- 
lective and carefully prepared military actions" is suggested by its re- 
a^iest, on the same day^ for JOS views on the feasibility of telegraphing 
intended action through military deployments. 86/ 

j Despite its aband.onment of the paced scenario approach, the ExCom 

i^ . proposed that many of the actions incorporated in the scenario be under- 
taken. Although proposing a particular order for these actions, the com- 
mittee suggested that the sequence may need to be modified in reaction to 
specific developments, especially in view of different choices available 
to the enemy. In addition to the Presid.ential decision, the recommended 
actions included: (l) communication of our resolve and limited objectives 
to Hanoi through the Canadian intermediary; (2) conducting a high-level 
Southeast Asian strategy conference in Honolulu; (3) diplomatic initiatives 
at the m to present the case for DRV aggression; {h) formal and bilateral 
consultation with SEATO allies, including the question of obtaining allied . 
force comraitments ; (5) seeking a Congressional Resolution in support of 
U.S. resistance to communist aggression in Southeast Asia; (6) periodic" 
force deployments tovrard the region; and (7) an initial strike against 
North Vietnam, "designed to have more deterrent than destructive impact" 
and accompanied by an active diplomatic offensive to restore peace in the 
area -- including agreement to a Geneva Conference. Further, the ExCom 
recommended that in the execution of these actions, all functional and 
geographic elements "should be treated as parts of a single problem: the 

protection of /all/" Southeast Asia from further communist encroachment." 87/ 


If all of the decisions and actions contained in the draft memoran- 
dum were in fact recommended to the President, all of them were not approved 
immediately. It is doubtful that the President made the decision to use 
force if necessary, since some advisers were still urging the same kind 
of decision on him in the weeks to follow. The plan to convey a message 
to Hanoi by Canadian channels was carried out on June I8, but it may have 
been decided on already before the meeting, given the earlier negotiations 
with Ottawa. 88/ The President did approve the calling of a conference 
in Honolulu "to review for /his/ final approval a series of plans for effec- 
tive action" in Southeast Asia. 89/ U.S. policy toward Southeast Asia 
was explained, by Ambassador Stevenson in a major UN speech on 21 May. 
He did not address the Security Council on this subject again until 6 August, 
after the Tonkin Gulf episode. It is doubtful if less publicized state- 
ments at the UI^ contained the "hitherto secret evidence" suggested in the 
ExCom sessions as "proving Hanoi's responsibility" before the world dlplo- 
^ mats. 22/ I"^ ^^ likely that q^uestions of consulting with SEATO allies, 

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deploying additional forces to Southeast Asia^ and requesting a congressional 
resolution were held in abeyance pending that meeting - 

One of the kinds of developments which the ExCom thought would necessi- 
tate a flexible approach to its proposed action sequence occurred prior 
to the Honolulu meeting. Its effect was to remove some of the "crisis 
management" pressure from further policy deliberations. On 27 May^ the 
Polish Government proposed a conference format for Laos that avoided many 
of the undesirable features of the Geneva proposals v^hich had been supported 
by communist governments in the past. After tvro days of deliberations ^ 
d.uring vrhich time Secretary Rusk departed for Nehru's funeral in New Delhi, 
a policy group composed of several ExCom members determined that the United 
States should attempt initially "to treat /the/ Lao a^estion separately 
from /the/ STO-ITOT problem." Reasoning that "if f^J/ satisfactory Lao 
solution /were/ not achieved, /"a__/ basis should have been laid for possi- 
ble subsequent actions that would permit our dealing more effectively with 
NVN with respect /t^ both SVN and Laos," the group decided to recommend 
to the President that he accept the Polish proposal. Integral to the ap- 
proach would be a "clear expression of U.S. determination. . .that U.S. /is/ 
not willing /to/ write off Laos to /the/ communists," and assurances to 
Souvanna Phomra "that we would be prepared to give him prompt and direct 
military support if the Polish Conference was /sic/ not successful." 9l/ 
With respect to our larger objectives in Southeast Asia, the proposed dis- 
cussions among representatives of Laosy the I.C.C. and the Geneva co- 
chairmen would have the ad.vantage of permitting Souvanna to continue to 
insist upon his preconditions for any resumed 1^-nation conference, and 
would avoid the issue of Vietnam. 


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V. The Question of Pressures Against the North 

With the policy line and. the courses of action for dealing with Laos 
determined, and vrith the Laotian military situation having become somevrhat 
•stabilized, the Administration turned to the broader issues of its South- 
east Asian policy. These were among the principal concerns of the Honolulu 
Conference 5 1-2 June 196^1-. 

A. The Honolulu Conference: Defining the U.S. Commitment . 

The Honolulu Conference vras approached with the realization that 
the "gravest decisions are in front of us and other governjnents about /the/ 
free world* s interest in and commitment to /the/ security of Southeast 
Asia." 92/ The State Department saw such decisions focusing on three "cen- 
tral questions": (l) Is the security of Southeast Asia vital to the United 
States and the Free World? (2) Are additional steps vrhich carry risks of 
escalation necessary? (3) Will the additional steps accomplish our goals . 
of stopping intrusions of Hanoi and Peking into South Vietnam? The Corjfer- 
ence apparently began v?ith the answer to the first q.uestion as a basic 
assumption. Again State: 

"Our point of departure is and must be that we cannot 
accept ftYioJ overrunning of Southeast Asia by Hanoi and 
Peiping." 93/ , ' . 

In addition to considering specific proposals for improving condi- 
tions in South Vietnam (Administration officials entered the Conference 
with another assumption that "we must do everything in our power to stiffen 
and strengthen the situation in South Vietnam" ShJ ), the discussions in 
Honolulu were intended to help clarify issues with respect to exerting pres- 
sures against North Vietnam,. 

B. At Honolulu: Exerting Pressure on WT^ 

In preparation for the conference, CINCPAC and COMU&'MACV had been 
asked by JCS Chairman Taylor to develop their views on such q.uestions as: 

"(1) VJhat military actions might be taken in ascend- 
ing order of gravity to impress Hanoi with our intention 
to strike NVN? 

(2) VJhat should be the purpose and pattern of the 
initial air strikes against NVN? 

(3) Wbat is your concept of the actions and reactions 
which may arise from the progressive implem.entation of 
CINCPAC 37-6^ and 32-6^? How may NVI^ and Communist China 
respond to our escalating pressures? 

(h) If at some point Hanoi agrees to desist from 
fiirther help to VC & PL, how can we verify fulfilment? 
How long shou3.d we be prepared to maintain our readiness 
postui'e while awaiting verification? 

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(5) \Jha.t help shoiild be sought from SEA.TO nations 
in relation to the situation (a) in Laos? (b) in SW?" 95/ 

Just prior to the conference ^ the JCS also submitted their views, 
to vfhich General Taylor did not subscribe. 96/ Expressing concern over, 
"a lack of definition" of U.S. objectives, the JCS asserted that it was 
"their first obligation to define a militarily valid objective for South- 
east Asia and then advocate a desirable military course of action to achieve 
that objective." With its basis identified as "military considerations/' 
they then made the recommendation that: 

"...the United States should seek through military 
actions to accomplish destruction of the North Vietnamese 
will and capa.bilities as necessary to compel the Demo- 
cratic Governjaent of Vietnam (DEV) to cease providing 
support to the insurgencies in South Vietnam and Laos. 
Only a course of auction geared to this objective can 
assure that the North Vietnamese support of the subver- 
sive efforts in Laos and South Vietnam will terminate." ^7/ 

However, the JCS went on to note that "some current thinking appears to dis- 
miss the objective in favor of a lesser objective, one visualizing limited 
military action which, hopefully, would cause the North Vietnamese to de- 
cide to terminate their subversive support..." Drawing a distinction be- 
tween destroying DRV capability to support the insurgencies and.^^"an enforced, 
changing of policy. . .which, if achieved, may well be temporary," they stated 
their opinion that "this lesser objective" was inadequate for the current 
situation. They agreed, however, to und.ertake a course of action to achieve 
this lesser objective as an "initial measure." 

"What the JCS proposed as this "initial measure" were a pair of sus- 
tained attacks to destroy target complexes directly associated with support 
of the comjiiunist efforts in Laos and South Vietnam. Military installations 
at Vinh, vrhich served as a major resupply facility for transshipping war 
materiel into Laos, and a similar facility at Dien Bien Phu vrere recommended 
In support of these operations, which would require U.S. participation to 
achieve "timely destruction" as necessary to achieve the objectives, the 
JCS stated a need to demonstrate forcefully that our pattern of responses 
to Hanoi ^s aggression had changed. They argued: 

We should not waste critical time e/nd. more re- 

- sources in another protracted series of "m.essages," 
but rather we should take positive, prompt, and 

■meaningful military action to underscore our mean- 
ing that after more than two years of tolerating ■ ' • 
this North Vietnamese support we are now determined 
that it will stop. 98/ 

Aside from the JCS, whose views v^ere not shared by their spokesman 
at Honolulu, the main voices in support of the idea' of attacking the North 
in early June I96U seemed to come from Saigon. But this source of advocacy 

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seemed, to anticipate short-term impacts on South Vietnam, rather than 
vQ-tima^te effects on the DHV. On the way to Honolulu, Secretary Rusk had 
talked with General Khanh, who argued that South Vietnam could not win 
against the Viet Cong without some military action outside its borders. 
In particular, the General urged clearing out the communist forces in 
eastern Laos, who might move across the border and attempt to cut South 
Vietnam in two, with the implication that GW forces could carry out the 
task if given air support. He also favored, attacks directly on North Viet- 
nam, but said that they "should be selective and designed to minimize the 
chances of a drastic communist response." 99/ 

At the conference's Initial plenary session, Ambassador Lodge also 
argued in favor of attacks on the Horth, In answer to Secretary Rusk's 
query about South Vietnamese popiilar, which supported Hanoi's 
revolutionary aims, the Ajabassador stated his conviction that most support 
for the VC would fade as soon as some "counter-terrorism measures" were 
begun against the DRV. He urged "a selective bombing campaign against mili- 
tary targets in the North" 8.nd predicted this vrould "bolster morale and give 
the population in the South a feeling of unity." \Ihen asked by Mr. McCone 
how the political differences, among Vietnamese leaders might be overcome, 
he stated the opinion that "if v;e bombed Tchepone or attacked the /nvN 
motor torpedo/ boats and the Vietnamese people knew about it, this vrould 
tend to stimulate their morale, unify their efforts and reduce /their/ 
quarreling." lOO/ 

If other comments, either pro or con, were made at the plena^ry 
session about the d.esirability of attacking North Vietnam, they were not 
reflected in the record. General Westmoreland discussed the "military and 
security situation" in South Vietnam and. apparently did. not mention the 
potential impact of measures against the North. Similar discussions of 
the military situations in Laos and Cambodia apparently did not includ.e 
the subject either. The discussion of North Vietnam, as indicated by the 
record, was limited to assessments of the IBY^s military capabilities, 
particularly its air defenses, and their implications for the feasibility . 
of an air a.ttack. Policy aspects of air operations against the North were 
not mentioned. 10 1/ 

On the second day of the conference, possible pressures to be applied, 
against North Vietnam were a prominent subject. However, as reported by 
William Bundy, the main context for the discussion was Laos — what might 
have to be done in the event the current diplomatic track fa-iled or the 
military situation deteriorated. Not contemplated, it seems, v/ere initia- 
tives against the North to relieve the current levels of pressure on Laos 
or South Vietnarc. Rather, considerable attention v;as given to preliminajry 
steps that would, need, to be ta-ken in to prepare for actions necessary 
within the context of a Laotian military contingency. 102/ 

One such step vrould be consultation with allies who might contribute 
to a ground force contingent needed, for the defense, of Laos. The UK and 
other SEATO nations were cited as. particularly important contributors. The 
conferees agreed., however, that contingency preparations for Laos should 

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be undertaken outside the SEATO framework. As Secretary Risk pointed out, 
"Souvanna Phouna might well call on individual SEATO^ nations f^^^^^lP' ^^^ 

II was less likely to call on SEATO as an organization. Besides, the ^rencn 
*' and mkistani were expected to be obstructive and the Philippines Govern- 

■ ment was regarded as resenting a constant threat of untimely leaks, con- 
sensus was reached thlt the starting point for our bilateral consultations 
should be Thailand, since that government's confidence m the sincerity 
of the U.S. conmitment seemed mrticularly needful of being shored up. 
At the meeting, Ambassador Martin echoed the themes which he had reporxea. 
earlier in cables - that the Thais were not convinced, that we meant to stop 
the course in Southeast Asia and probably would not participate m or per 
mit allied troop build-ups in their country without firmer assurances than 
had. been given in the past. IO3/ 

Another preliminary step discussed by the conferees was the desira- 
I bility of obtaining a Congressional resolution prior to wider U.b. action 

in Southeast Asia. Ambassador Lodge questioned the need for it il we were 
1 to confine our actions to "tit-for-tat" air attacks against North Vietnam. 

However, Secretaries McNamara and Rusk and CIA Director McCone all argued 
i in favor of the resolution. In support, McITamara pointed to the need to ^ 

guarantee South Vietnam's defense against retaliatory air attacks^ and ^g^-inst 
more drastic reactions by North Vietnam and Coirmunist China. He aadea. zn&x, 
it might be necessary, as the action unfolded. . .to deploy as many as seven 
divisions . " Rusk noted that some of the military requirements might involve 
the calling up of reserves, always a touchy Congressional issue: He^aiso 
-^ stated that public opinion on our Southeast Asian policy was badly aiviaea 

in the United States at the moment and that, therefore, the President needed 
an affirmation of support. 10 V 

■ ■ Next, the discussion turned to present estimates of conimunist reaction 
to attacks on North Vietnam: 

"General Taylor summarized the present Washington 
view, to the effect that there would certainly be stepped- 
up Viet Cong activity in South Vietnam, Communist Chinese 
air might be sent to North Vietnam, Hanoi itself might 
send, some ground, forces south (though probably cinly on 
a limited scale), and there was the final possibility 
that the Communist Chinese would respond with signifi- 
cant military action. As to the last, he made clear 
that he did not visualize a 'yellow horde' of Chinese 
. pouring into Southeast Asia, and that air interdiction 
could have a significant effect in reducing the number 
of forces the Coromimist Chinese could send down and 
support.., In any case, he said, that the military judg- 
ment was that seven ground, divisions would, be needed,^ 
if the Communist Chinese employed their full capabili- 
ties in the dry season,' and five divisions even in the 
wet season. The needed five-seven divisions could come 
in part from the Thai and. others, but a rm^or 'share would 
have to be borne by the U.S. 


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Secretary McNamara said that "before we undertook 
attacks against the North^ we certainly had to be prepared 
to meet threats at the level stated by General Taylor. 
Mr. McCone agreed with this pointy, but went on to say 
that there was a serious q.uestion about the effect of 
major deployments on Communist Chinese reactions. The 
intelligence community was inclined to the viev7 that the 
more substantial the deployment^ the greater the possi- 
ble chance of a drastic Communist Chinese reaction. 
General Taylor commented, that under present plans it was 
not contemplated that we should have deployment of all 
the potentially necessary forces at the outset. Vie were 
thinking along the lines of a brigade to the northern 
part of South Vietnam^ two to three brigades to Thailand, 
considerable na-^/al deployments, and some alerting of other 
forces in the U.S. and elsewhere. Even this, however, 
added up to a significant scale of activity... 

Secretary McNamara noted, that all this planning was 
on the basis that a really drastic communist reaction 
was possible, and was not based on any judgment that it 
was probable. The best current vievr was that appropri- 
ately limited attacks on the North would not bring in 
Communist Chinese air or North Vietnam, or Communist 
Chinese ground forces. Hovrever, it was still essential 
that \re be prepared against these eventualities. 

Ambassador Lodge asked whether the Communist Chinese 
could not in fact mount almost any number of forces they 
chose. General Taylor and Admiral Felt said they could 
not do so and support them' to the extent reauired. . .Secre- 
tary McNamara then went on to say that the possibility of 
major ground action also led. to a serious q,uestion of 
having to use nuclear weapons at some point. Admiral 
Felt responded emphatically that there vras no possible 
way to hold off the communists on the ground without the 
use of tactical nuclea^r weapons, and that it was essential 
that the commanders be given the to use these as 
had been assumed under the various plans. He said, that with- 
out nuclear weapons the ground force req.uirement was and 
had always been^ completely out of reach. General Taylor 
was more doubtful as to the existence or at least to the 
d,egree of the nuclear weapon reCLuirement, and again the 
point was not really fo]_lowed up- 

Secretary Rusk said that another possibility we m.ust 
consider would be the Soviets stirring up trouble else- 
where. We should do everything we could to minimize this 
risk, but it too must be considered. Ke went on to stress 
the nuclear q.uestion, noting that in the last ten years 
this had. come to include the possibility of a nuclear ex- 
change, with all that this involved. 

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General Taylor noted that there was a danger of 
reasoning ourselves into inaction. From a military point 
of vievr, he said that the U.S. could function in South- 
east Asia about as well as anyvfhere ±n the world except 
Cuba. Mr. McCone made the point that th" passage of the 
Congressional resolution would in itself be an enormous 
deterrent. This led to brief discussion of the text of 
I the resolution^ which v/as read by I^. Sullivan... 

Discussion then shifted to what the Viet Cong could 
do in South Vietnajn if we struck the North. General 
Westmoreland thought there was not a significant imused 
Viet Cong capability, but Ambassador Lodge thought there 
was a major capability for terrorism and even for mili- 
tary action against Saigon, and that in sum the Viet Cong 
'could make Saigon uniniiabitable. '" 10^/ 

Finally, the conferees d.ealt with the crucial question of how soon 
the United States and the GVN would, be prepared to engage in wider military 
actions should the need arise. For several reasons, the consensus seemed 
to be that such actions should be delayed for some time yet. "Secretary 
Rusk thought we should not be considering quick action unless the Pathet 
Lao lunged toward the Mekong." Discussion yielded several things we could 
do in the interim to streng-then the current government position in Laos 
(i.e., re-eq.uip Kong Le's neutralist forces as an aid to Hiouma's FAR; 
back Souvanna's d.emand for preconditions before any reconvening of the 
Geneva Conference; support the RLAF T-28 operations). General Taylor pointed 
to the prior need to educate the American public regarding U.S. interests 
in Southeast Asia. Secretary McNamara thought this would require at least 
30 days. 

« * 

Generals Taylor and Westmoreland then listed a number of military 
factors that affected the question of timing, although stating that these 
referred to "an optimum military posture" : 

1. The additional Vietnamese aircraft would not 
be available until July for two squadrons and. September 
for another. However, B-57's could be introduced at any 
time. and operated on a FAKMGATE basis. 

2. There were logistic factors, shipping require- 
ments, and the call-up of some logistic reserve units in- 
volved in having five-seven divisions ready for action, 
and these Tould take two months to be sorted out properly. 

3. It was desirable if not essential to build up 
military manpower in South Vietnam. He would like to 
be in a position to have 12 battalions that could be 
freed for deployment along the Laos border. 


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4. The rainy season was a factor precluding any 
substantial offensive in the panhandle area until mid- 

They added that General Khanh's political base was not as strong as we 
wished and that it might not be so until the end of the year. This factor 
was also cited by other conferees as being a reason for delay. 106/ 

* C. The Need to Eefine Plans and Reso].ve Issues . 

Iinmediately following the Honolulu Conference ^ its Chairman, 
Secretary Rusk, reported to President Johnson, presumably making some 
recommendations. Although a record of this discussion is not available, , 
Ass't Secretary Bundy's brief to Rusk just prior to his White House meet- 
ing may provide a clue to the thrust of the Secretary's remarks. Citing 

! a "somewhat less pessimistic estimate" of conditions in South Vietnam, 

the "somewhat shaky" but hopeful situation in laos, and the military tim- 
j ing factors reported, above, Bundy counseled taking more time "to refine 

I ' our plans and estimates." Criticizing CIl^ICPAC's presentation on military 

planning, he stated that it "served largely to highlight some of the diffi- 
cult issues we still have." These he identified as: "(l) the likely ef- 
fects of force requirements for any significant operations against the 
/Laotian/ Panliandle"; (2) the trade-off between the precautionary advan- 
tages of a ma.jor build-up of forces prior to v/ider action and'the possible 
disadva,ntages of distorting the signal of our limited objectives; (3) the 
sensitivity of estimates of. communist reactions to different levels and 
tempos of a military build-up; and (h) the need for "more refined target- 
ing and a clearer definition of just what shoixld be hit and how thoroughly, 
and above all, for what objective." 10?/ 

In particular, Bundy emphasized to Secretary Rusk the need, for 
immed.iate efforts in the information and intelligence areas. These were 
needed., he said, "both for the sake of refining our plans and. for prepar- 
ing materials to use for eventual support of wider action if decided, upon" -- 
particularly to support the diplomatic track in Laos. He called for "an 
urgent U.S. information effort" to "get at the basic doubts of the value 
of Southeast Asia and the importance of our stake there..." Hovrever, not- 
ing the problem of "handling the high degree of expectations flowing from 
the conference itself," Bundy recommended, "careful guidance and consid.eration 
of high-level statements and speeches in the next two weeks" to assure that 
I our posture appeared firm. 108/ . . . . 

Rusk was accompanied at the VJhite House meeting by other high- 
ranking Honolulu conferees. Bundy* s reactions to Honolulu were for^v^arded 
to Secretary McNamara, Mr. McCone and, General Taylor prior to the meeting .109/ 
Events which follov/ed. the late afternoon meeting of 3 June provide an indi- 
cation of the discussion that probably occurred. 

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D. The Aftermath of Honolulu . 

The importance of combining appearances of a firm posture with 
efforts to reduce public doubts on U.S. interests in Southeast Asia appar- 
ently struck a responsive chord, in the White House* In the military area, 
the President apparently recognized the need, for more and better informa- 
tion, but did not convey a sense of urgency regarding its acq.uisition. 
Possibly just following the meeting, Secretary McNamara expressed his wish 
to- discuss North Vietnamese targets and troop movement capabilities with 
the JCS on 8 June. IIO/ The following day, he communicated, interest to 
the Joint Staff in obtaining "facts and statistics" on Haiphong harbor traf- 
fic; existing plans for mining the harbor; impacts of such operations on 
different import categories; and alternative DRV importation facilities. Ill/ 
On the other hand, non- committing military actions which could, improve our 
image in Southeast Asia were given immediate approval. On the same day 
he received the req.uest for Haiphong mining information, the Director of 
the Joint Staff informed the Army of a McNamara directive calling for "imme- 
diate action... by the Army to improve the effectiveness and readiness status 
of its materiel prestocked for possible use in Southeast Asia." Specifically, 
the Secretary ordered (l) augmenting the stockage at Korat, in Thailand, to 
support a RO/J) Infantry Brigade and (2) giving first priority at the Okinawa 
Army Forward Depot to stocking non-air-transportable equipment required by 
an airlifted ROAD Infantry Brigade. 112/ In keeping with the -Administra- 
tion's current policy rationale, the augmentation of contingency v;ar stocks 
in Thailand was given extensive press coverage. 113/ 

In non-military areas, the President apparently encouraged further 
examination of the vital issues which impacted on national commitment and 
public support. Soon after the 3 June meeting, vrork v/as begun under State 
Department guidance to assemble information in answer to some of the preva- 
lent public q.uestions on Southeast Asian involvement. For example, on 
10 June, the Department of Defense was asked to furnish responses to 27 
questions developed in State, as a fall-out of the discussions in Honolulu. llV 
Similar questions became a frequent focus for interdepartmental correspondence 
and meetings in the coming weeks. Paralleling this effort was an examination 
of the desirability of requesting a Congressional resolution. On the same 
day that OSD received State's request to furnish information, an interagency 
meeting was held to discuss the implications which a resolution would have 
for the U.S. policy position and the public rationale which its acceptance 
would demand. The relative advantages of having or not having a resolution 
v;ere also consid.ered. 115/ 

To supplement recommendations coming from Honolulu, the President 
apparently sought additional guidance to help sort out the alternatives 
available to him. Soon after receiving reports from the Honolulu confer- 
ence, he sent a request to ¥alt Rostow to prepare a public statement for 
him, detailing a Governmental view of U.S. policy and commitments in South- 
east Asia. As most likely expected, the rationale and discussion which 
resulted took a more aggressive approach than the prevailing views at Hono- 
lulu and were not used. 116/ In fact. President Johnson did not deliver 

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a major policy address during the coming weeks, relying on news conferences 
and speeches hy other officials to state the official view. In contrast 
to the Rostow approach, his news conference of 23 J'one and Secretary Rusk's 
. speech at Willi&jns College, 1^+ June, emphasized the U.S. determination to 
support its Southeast Asian allies, "but avoided any direct challenge to 
Hanoi and Peking or any hint of intent to increase our military commit- 
ment. 117 / 


In addition, the President asked his advisers the basic question, 
'^^7ould the rest of Southeast Asia necessarily fall if Laos and South Viet- 
nam came under TTorth Vietnamese control?" On 9 J^^ine, the Board of National 
Estimates, CIA, provided a response, stating: 

"With the possible exception of Cambodia, it is likely 
I that no nation in the area would quickly succumb to com- 

munism as a result of the fall of Laos and South Vietnam. 
Furthermore, a continuation of the spread of commimism 
in the area would not be inexorable, and any spread which 
did occur would take time -- time in which the total situ- 
ation might change in any of a number of ways unfavorable 
to the communist cause." 118 / 

The statement went on to a^gue that the loss of South Vietnam and Laos 
"would be profoundly damaging to the U.S. position in the Far East," be- 
cause of its impact on U.S. prestige and on the credibility of our other 
commitments to contain the spread of communism. It did not suggest that 
such a loss would affect the wider U.S. interest in containing overt mili- 
tary attacks. Our island base, it argued, would probably still enable 
us to employ enough military power in the area to deter Hanoi and Peking 
from this kind of aggression. It cautioned, however, that the leadership 
in Peking (as well as Hanoi) would profit directly by being able to justify 
its militant policies with demonstrated success and by having raised "its. 
prestige as a leader of World Communism" at the expense of the more moder- 
ate USSR. 


E. Sources of Moderate Advice 

The stren^h of the Board's warning was weakened by two signifi^ 
cant caveats. The first United the estimate's less-than-alarmist view 
to a clearly "worst case": 

"This memorandiara assumes a clear-cut communist vic- 
tory in these coixntries, i.e . , a withdrawal of U.S. forces 
and virtual elimination of U.S. presence in Indochina, 
either preceded or soon followed by the establishment of 
communist regimes in Laos and South Vietnam. The results 
of a fuzzier, piecemeal victory, such as one staged through 
a 'neutralist' phase, would probably be similar, though 
somewhat less sharp and severe." 119/ 

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The second, indicated that even in the worst case, the United States would 
retain some leverage to affect the outcome. They argued that "the extent 
to which individua.1 countries would move away from the U.S. tovrards the 
commimists would, be significantly affected, by the substance and manner 
of U.S. policy in the period following the loss of Laos and South Vietnam." 

\ The largely moderating tone of this estimate of the degree to 

which U.S. vital interests were in jeopardy in Southeast Asia tended to 
be reinforced, by the views of the President's highest-level advisers on 

\ military matters. On his way to the Honolulu Conference , CJCS Taylor had 

forwarded without detailed, comment the JCS recommendation for courses of 
action in Southeast Asia. 120/ On 5 June, after his return, he submitted 

'■ highly critical comments, together with his preferred alternative to the 

JCS proposal, to Secretary McNamara. 12l/ Five days later, the Secretary 
communicated his approval of General Taylor's vievrs and no doubt conveyed 
the flavor, if not the details, of them to the V/hite House- 122/ 

The nature of these views shared by the President's tvro top mili- 
tary advisers indicates a rejection of the concept of trying to force the 
DRV to reverse its policies by striking North Vietnam with punishing blows. 
The JCS had stated, the view that only by initiating m.ilitary actions de- 
signed to destroy the DRV^s v?ill and capabilities could we reasonably ex- 
pect to compel it to terminate its support of the insurgencies in South 
Vietnam and Laos. But they had exxiressed their support of certain recommended 
limited actions as "an initial measure" directed toward causing the DSV 
"to decide to term3.nate their subversive support." 123/ General Taylor 
argued, that these tvro alternatives were not "an accurate or complete expres- 
sion of our choices." He suggested, three patterns from which the United 
States "may choose to initiate the attack on North Vietnam," in descend- 
ing order or weight: 

"a. A massive air attack on all significant mili- 
tary targets in North Vietnam for the purpose of destroy- 
ing them and thereby making the enemy incapable of continuing 
to assist the Viet Cong and the Pathet Lao. 

b. A lesser attack on some significant part of the 
military target system in North Vietnam for the dual pur- 
pose of convincing the enemy that it is to his interest 
to desist from aiding the Viet Cong and the Pathet Lao, 
and, if possible, of obtaining his cooperation in calling 
off the insurgents in South Vietnam and Laos. 

c. Demonstrative strikes against limited military 
targets to show U.S. readiness and intent to pass to al- 
ternatives b or a above. These demonstrative strikes 
would have the same dual purpose as in alternative b." 

Stating a personal preference for the second, he noted the probability 
that "political considerations will incline our responsible civilian offi- 
cials to opt for /the third/" alternative." Therefore, his recommendation 


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to the Secretary v^as that the JCS "be asked to develop a strike plan based 
on the assumption that a decision was made to implement the third alterna- 
tive. 12V 

It is clear that the JCS not only preferred the larger attacks — 
directed against both DRV capabilities and will -- but intended that they 
be implemented in the near future. However , there is no indication that 
the CJCS urged prompt implementation -- even of the limited measures he 
linked v/ith pressures against DRV will alone.' Neither view was supported 
with an explanation of why it vras expected that the preferred course of 
action might be successful or with any analysis of what lesser results 
might lead to in the way of next steps by either side or of likely public 

F. The President D ecides . 

The Presidential reaction to these various patterns of advice 
and the different assessments of national interest is not evident in the 
available documents. However^ it can be surmised from the pattern of events 
surrounding the effort to obtain a Congressional resolution. As will be 
recalled, a resolution was recommended to the President in late May as one 
of a series of events to include the Canadian's mission to Hanoi^ the Hono- 
lulu Conference, and consultations with allies. It also fit in with the 
emphasis on public information and. a firm posture that stemmed from the 
Honolulu meeting. Its intended purpose was to dramatize and make clear 
to other nations the firm resolve of the United States Government in an . 
election year to support the President in taking whatever action was neces- 
sary to resist communist aggression in Southeast Asia. 

The week of 8 June saw the planning for a Congressional resolu- 
tion being brought to a head. By 10 June there was firm support for it 
on the part of most agencies, despite recognition that obtaining it would 
require a vigorous public campaign, a likely requirement of which would be 
a "substantial increase in the commitment of U.S. prestige and power to 
success in Southeast Asia." Therefore, at the meeting held on that day, 
five basic "disagreeable questions" were identified for which the Adminis- 
tration would have to provide convincing answers to assiire public support. 12^/ 
These included: (l) Does this imply a blank check for the President to go 
to war in Southeast Asia? (2) "^Jhat kinds of force could he employ under 
this authorization? (3) V/hat change in the situation (if any) requires 
the resolution now? (h) Can't our objectives be attained by means other 
than U.S. military force? (5) Does Southeast Asia mean enough to U.S. 
national interests? 


By June 12, after a temporary diversion caAised. by Souv^-nna Phouma^s 
vrithdrawal and rea^ffirmation of permission to continue the reconnaissance 
flights, much of the rationale in support of the resolution was formulated. 
Even though the Administration did not expect "to move in the near future 
to military action against North Vietnam," it recognized that significant 
changes in the local situations in both Laos and South Vietnam were beyond 

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our control and could compel us to reconsider this position." Although 
our diplomatic track in Laos appeared hopeful, and our now firm escorted 
reconnaissance operations provided an image of U.S. resolve to complement 
the Polish negotiating scheme , we needed to be able to augment this posture 
in the event negotiations stalemated. If Souvanna were to become discour- 
aged, or if Khann were to view our efforts to obtain a Laotian settlement 
as a sign of willingness to alter our objectives, we would need additional 
demonstrations of our firmness to keep these lead.ers from being demoralized. 
Since additional military actions in Laos and South Vietnam did not hold, 
much promise, actions or the strong threat of actions against the North might 
need to be considered. For these reasons, an immediate Congressional^reso- 
lution was believed required as "a continuing demonstration of U.S. firmjiess 
and for complete flexibility in the hand^ of the Executive in the coming 
political months." 126/ 

A crucial interagency meeting was held at the State Department on 
15 June to hold final discussions on the recommendation for a resolution 
to be sent to the President. The meeting vras sched,uled from the TThite House 
and included Secretaries Rusk and McNamara, their principal advisers on 
the subject, and McGeorge Bundy. 127/ On the afternoon of the meeting, 
a was distributed by Bundy to the participants, which provided 
a rather clear picture of current l^ite House attitudes toward the resolu- 
tion -- and by implication, of the President's judgment on the issue of 
preparing to take harder measures against North Vietnam. 

The memorandum d.ealt with one subject only — "actions that would 
remain open to us in varying combinations in the event that we do not now 
d.ecid.e on major military operations against North Vietnam and do not now 
decide to seek a Congressional resolution." It then listed under the cate- 
gories of "military" and "political," those actions which were within an 
acceptable range of U.S. capability, as follows: 

"Possible military actions 

a. Reconnaissance, reconnaissance-strike, and T-28 
operations in all parts of Laos. 

b. Small-scale reconnaissance strike operations, 
after appropriate provocation, in North Vietnam (initially 

c. VMF strike operations in Laotian corridors. 

d. Liraited air and. sea deployments toward. Southeast 
Asia, and still more limited ground troop movements. 
(Major ground force d.eployments seem more questionable, 
without a decision "to go north" in some form.) 

Political actions 

a. Internationally --a continued and increased 
effort to maximize support 'for our diplomatic track in 

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Laos and our political effort in South Vietnam. Higher 
authority particularly desires a maximum effort with our 
allies to increase their real and visible presence in 
support of Saigon. 

b. Laos -" an intensive effort to sustain Souvanna 
and to restrain the right wing from any rash act against 
the French. Possible increase of direct support and assis- 

. tance to Kong Le in appropriate ways. 

c. South Vietnam -- rapid development of the critical 
province program, and the information program, strengthening 
of country team, and shift of U.S. role from advice toward 
direction; emphatic and continued discouragement of all coup 
plots; energetic public support for Khanh Government - 

d. In the U.S. — continued reaffirmation and expanded 
explanation of the above lines of action, with opposition 

to both aggressive adventure and withdrawal, and a clear open 
door to selected action of the sort included in above Possl - 
• ^le military actions ." 128/ 

The files contain no record of the discussion that occurred at 
the 15 June meeting, but in this memorandum, the guidance provided from 
the VJhite House was evident: Unless drastic measures were provoked from, 
"the other side," there were still a number of political and military ac- 
tions available which appeared to enable the United States to demonstrate 
an Increasingly firm resistance without the need to risk major escalation. 
Moreover, such actions would not risk embarking on a depth or direction of 
commitment in which the United States would sacrifice policy flexibility . 
As the VJhlte House memorandum concluded, the actions were listed with the 
assumption that "d.efense of U.S. interests is possible, within these limits, 
over the next six months." Igg/ 

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1. This program v;as approved by President Kennedy on 11 May I96I, in 
NSAM 52. ^ , 

2. "Program of Operations Against Worth Vietnam" and undated^Memoran- for the President, "Operations Against North Vietnam, both 
attached to Krulak memo to Mr. McNamara, "North Vietnam Operations 
Paper," 2 January 1964 (in Vietnam 38I: Jan file). 

3. Attachment to Rusk letter to Secretary McNamara, "Mechanism for 
Political Control and Guidance of Cross-Border Operations, 
11 December I963 (in file of materials prepared for SecDef prior 
to SVN Conference, March 196^1, CF8 - Sec VILA.). See also Anthis 
memorandum for Deputy SecDef, "Division of Responsibility Between 
CIA and DOD for the Planning and Execution of Operation S^-A, 
16 April 196i^ (in Vietnam 38I: Sensitive file). 

i|. Memoranda, "Covert Operations Against North Vietnam," December 1963, 
p.l. (In file of materials prepared for SecDef, "Back-up Book, Saigon 
Trip, 18-20 December I963.") 

5. Ibid . 

6. Prom KSMI 273, 26 November I963. 

7. CIWCPAC letter to JCS, "Combined mCV-CAS Saigon Plan for Actions 
Against North Vietnam," 19 December I963. (in O92 Worth Vietnam, 

8. Roger Hilsman, To Move a Nation (New York: Doubleday & Co., Inc., 
1967), p. 527. 

9. "H-ogram of Operations Against North Vietnam," 2 January 196h. 

10. Agenda papers (item e), "OPLAW 3i|A-6if (North Vietnam)," c. End- 
February I96I+, p.l. (In file of papers prepared for Mr. McNaughton 
prior to S^Tf meeting, March 196^1, McNaughton Vl). 

11. CIKCPAC letter, 19 December I962. (in O92 Worth Vietnam: 1-35033/63.).. 

12. "Program of Operations AgsJnst Worth Vietnam," 2 January I96U, p.l. 

13. Memorandum for the Director, CIA, '■'Probable Reactions to Various 
Courses of Action with Respect to North Vietnam," 30 December I963 
(Tab D to Ibid.). 


Ik. "Program of Operations Against North Vietnam," 2 January 19Gk, pp. 6-7- 


I d^^l 15. Ibid . 3 vv- 1"2 (■underlining add.ed). 

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16. Rostov memorandum to Secretary Rusk, "Southeast Asia/' 13 February 
1964, p.3^ (in State Dept Material, Book I.) 

17. Agenda papers - "OPIAN 3^A-6i+ (iTorth Vietnam)." 

18. SME 50-6^5 "Short-Term Prospects in Southeast Asia/' 12 February 

19* Rostow letter to Rusk, I3 February 196^, p-^. 

20. CJCS memorandum to SecDef, . "Vietnam and Southeast Asia," 22 January 
196^ (JCSM U6-6U). (In Vietnam 38I: Sensitive File.) 

21. Rusk letter to Secretary McNamara, 5 February 196^. (in Vietnajn 38I: 
February file.) Also Ibid , , p. 3. 

22. White House Memorandum for the Record, "South Vietnam," 20 February 
I96U. (in Vietnam 38I: February file.) 

23. Robert Johnson memorandum to William Sullivan, "Alternatives for 
Imposition of Measured Pressure Against North Vietnam," 13 March 196^. 
(In 092 North Vietnam: I-35316/6U.) 

2k. Johnson memorandum to Sullivan, "Alternatives for Imposition of Measured 
Pressiire Against North Vietnam," I9 March 196^ (with attachments). 
(In 092 North Vietnam: 1-353^13/6^.) 

25. SecDef memorandum to CJCS, "Vietnam," 21 February I96U. (in Vietnam 
381 : February file.) 

26. Rusk message to Saigon Embassy and CINCPAC, 25 February I96U (State 
1307)5 giving agenda of Honolulu and Saigon meetings, (in McNaughton 

27. These included a "VJhite I^per" d.etailing Hanoi's role; a Presidential 
statement of our rationale and limited intent; a Congressional Resolu- 
tion; and diploma.tic consultations. Annex A to SecDef Memorandum 

to President Johnson, "South Vietnam," I6 March I96U (U.S. Military 
Action Against North Vietnam -- an Analysis), pp. A-1, 2. (In Press- 
ures Planning," McNaughton V.) ■ 

28. Ibid . , pp. A-3, A-^, A-6. 

29. Ibid . , pp. A-75 A-8, A-10, A-11. 

30. SecDef Memorandum to President, I6 March 196^, pp. 7-83 15- 

31. SACSA, Agenda Item Number Cll, "Modification of Restrictions Placed 
on Cross Border Operations Beyond. South Vietnam's International 
Boundaries," 27 February I96U (in McNaughton Vl), 

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1. r 


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32. CJCS Memorandum for SecDef^ "Steps to Improve the Situation in ■ 
Southeast Asia with I^rticular Reference to Laos" (JCSI-I- 159-64), 
26 February 1964. (in Vietnam 38I: February file.) 

33. Draft Memorandum for the President, "Stabilizing the Situation in 
Southeast Asia," 25 February 1964. (in Vietnam 38I: February file.) 

34. SecDef Memo to Pres, I6 March 1964, p.l8. 

35. Ibid,., pp. 6-7, 15, l8j. Annex D. 

36. NSAI^ 288, 17 March 1964. 

37. JCS msg to CINCPAC, "Planning Actions, Vietnam," I8 March 1964 
(JCS 5390). (in "South Viet-Nam Back-up Material for 12 McNamara 
Recommendations, as of 8 May 1964," CF9 - Sec 12.) 

38. "Recommendation No. 12 -- Status Report on 12 Recommendations," 
5 r-lay 1964. (in file of materials assembled for Secy McNamara prior 
to Saigon Conference, May 1964, CFIO - Sec 3.) 

39. William Bundy (Ass*t Sec. of State) letter to Ambassador Lodge, 
4 April 1964 (Section C in "Pressures Planning," McNaughton v). 

40. "Political Scenario in Support of Pressures on the North (Third 
Draft)," 31 March 1964 (Section B in McNaughton V) . Also referred 
to as Tab A in the Bundy letter to Lodge, 4 Apr 1964. 

41. Rostow memo to W. Sullivan, "The External Element in Vietnam," 
26 February 1964. (in Vietnam 38I: February file.) 

42. Lt. Gen. J. F. Carroll memo for SecDef, "North Vietnamese Support to 
the Viet Cong and the Pa.thet Lao," 29 February 1964. (in Vietnam 38I: 
February file.) 

43. JCSM-159-64, 26 February 1964. 

44. JCSM-46-64, 22 January 1964. 

45- CJCS memo to SecDef, "Removal of Restrictions for Air and Ground Cross - 
Border Operations," 2 March 1964 (JCSM-168-64) . (in Vietnam 38I: 
Sensitive file. ) 

46. "Political Acceptability of Operations Involving Laos 
and Cambodia," attachment to Rusk letter to McNamara, 11 December I963. 
(in "SecDef : South Vietnam March Conference," Vol II, CF8 - Part VII.) 

47. CIA msg to OSD, 10 December I963. This policy view prevailed, as 
Secretary McNamara d.ecid.ed, on 21 December, not to recorpmend operations 

. _ across the Laotian border. See CIA memo for SecDef, et al , "Operations 

V into Laos," 7 February 1964. (in CF8 - Part VI.) 

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1 * 

! I 


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il8. Vientiane Embassy msg to SecState, 1 March 196^1 (Vientiane 92?). 
(In CF8 - Part VI.) 

. 1+9. Vientiane Embassy msg to SecState^ 13 December 1963 (State 682). 
(In CF8 - Part VI.) 

50. CJCS memo to SecDef, "Vietnam," 2 March I96U (JCSM-17^-6U). (in 
Vietnam 38I : Sensitive file.) 

51. Lodge msg to SecState, 1? March 1964 (State I767). (m Vietnam 38I: 
16-31 March file.) . . 


52. ■ President's msg to Ambassador Lodge, 1? March 196^ (State 1^5^)- 
(in Dept of State Material, Book I.) 

53. Ibid . See also Lodge msg to President, 15 March 196k (State 1757). 
5I1. President's msg to Ambassador Lodge, 20 March 3-96^. (State lUS^l-). 

' . 55. Tab A, Bundy letter to Lodge, k April 196^+- 

56. Scenario drafts prepared on 3I March, 8 April, 17 April and 20 April. 
(in "Pressures Planning," McNaughton V.) 

57. Clay memo to Ass't SecDef ' (ISA) , "Political Scenario on Vietnam," 
J ( 13 April 1964 (w/attachme.nts). (in "Pressures Planning, McNaughton V. } 

58. SecDef memo for Chairman, JCS, "Draft Scenarios for Recommendation 12 
(NSA14 288)," 23 April 1964. (in Vietnam 38I : 16-30 April file.) 

59. Saigon Embassy Conference Memo, "Meeting of April 19, 1964," 22 April 
1964. (in Dept of State Material, Vol I.) 

60. Lodge msg to President Johnson, 20 February 1964 (State 159^); 
Lodge msg to McGeorge Bundy, I5 March 1964 (State 1757). . 

61. All in Embassy Conference Memo, 22 April 1964. 

62. Ibid. . 

63. "Summary of Rusk's Recommendations for Additional Steps in South Viet- 
nam," 20 April 196i+. (In CFIO - Yellow Tab.) 

6k. Rostov memo to Secretary Rusk, "On How Much Flesh and. Blood Can Stand,: ^ 
Laos and Vietnam," 23 April 196^1. (in Vietnam 38I : I6-3O April file.; 

4 S^, Lodge msg to President Johnson, I5 May 196^ (State 2212). (Excerpt 

in back-up notebook.) 

66. CJCS memorandum to SecDef, "Draft Scenarios for Recommendation 12 

(KSAI4 288)," 16 May 196U, JCSi-I-l|22-6U. (in Vietnam 38I : 16-30 May 
file.) • • 

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67. Khanh's proposals were reported in Lodge msg to Secretary of State , 
k May 196^ (Saigon 2108). (in CFIO - Orange Tab) 

68. Talking Paper for Secretary of Defense, "General Khanh's Conversa- 
tion with Lodge," 7 May 196^. (in Vietnam 38I: 1-15 May file) 

69. Baltimore Sun, 22 May I967. 

70. JCSM-^26-6U, referred to in McNaughton memorandum to Deputy SecDef , 
"North Vietnam Operations," 25 May 1964. (in Vietnam 38I: I6-3I May 

71. CJCS memorandum to SecDef, "Readiness to Implement WSM 288," 23 May 
1964 (jCSM-445-64) . (In Vietnam 38I: l6-31 May file) ■ 

72. CJCS memorandum for SecDef, "Air Campaign Against North Vietnam," 
30 May 1964 ( JCSM-460-41|) . (in Vietnam 38I: l6-31 May file) 

73. Rusk msg to Ambassador Lodge, 21 May 1964 (State 2027). 

74. Lodge msg to Secretary Rusk, 26 May 1964 (State 2318) . (Excerpt in 
Back-up Notebook) 

75. From a draft memorandum to President Johnson, "Scenario for Strikes 
on North Vietnam," 23 May I965. (in State Dept Material, Vol l) 

76. Ibid . 

77. Rusk msg to Ambassador Lodge, 22 May 1964 (State 2049) . (in file of 
materials prepared for Secretary McNamara, "Honolulu Conference on 
Southeast Asia," CFll) 

78. Draft memorandum to President, 23 May 1964. 

79. Memo for Record, "Possible Items for Back-up Book," 27 May 1964. 
(in Vietnam 38I: I6-31 May file) 

80. SNIE 50-2-64, "Probable Consequences of Certain U.S. Actions with 
Respect to Vietnam and Laos," 25 May 1964. 

81. Ibid ., pp. 2-3 

82. Ibid . , pp. 5-6 (\inderlining added) 

83- McGeorge Bundy meiuorandum to Secretary Rusk, . , Draft - Basic 
Recommendation and Projected Course of Action on Southeast Asia," 
25 May 1964 (w/Attachment). (in State Dept Material, Vol l) 

84. Attachment to Ibid., p. 1 

85- Ibid., pp. 1-2 


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86. CJCS memorandum to SecDef, "Scenario for Strikes on Worth Vietnam 
(Noise Levels - Telegraphing Actions)," 30 May 196^^ (jCSM-il69-64). 
(in Vietnam 38I : Sensitive file.) 

87. Attachment to Bundy memorandum to Rusk, 25 May 196^+, pp. 2-5, passim. 

88. Canadian delegation ( Saigon) msg to Dept of State, 20 June 196^^. 
(in Vietnam 38I : II-30 June 196^.) 

89. President's msg to Ambassador Lodge, 26 May 196^ (State 208?) • 
(In CFll.) 

90. Attachment to Bundy memorandum to Rusk, 25 May 196^, p.3- 

j ■ 91. State msg to Secretary Rusk (New Delhi Embassy), 29 May 196^1 (State 

• TOSEC 36). See also Ball msg to diplomatic posts, 29 May 196^ 
(State Circular 2229). (in CFll.) 

92. State msg to Saigon and New Delhi Embassies, 2? May 196^ (State 2095). 
(In CFll.) 

93. Ibid . 
91+. Ibid. 

l(^ 95, Taylor msg to Admiral Felt and General Harkins, 28 May 19Gk (JCS 2625- 

■^^ 6h). (In CFll.) 

' 96. Taylor to SecDef, "Transmittal of JCSM-I+71-6J+, 'Objectives 

and Courses of Action -- Southeast Asia,'" 2 June 196h (CM- 1^50-64) . 
(In Vietnam 38I : 1-10 June 196^.) 

97. JCS memorandiom to SecDef, "Objectives and Courses of Action — South- 
east Asia," 2 June 196^1 (JCSM-1+71-64). (in Vietnam 38I : 1-10 June 
I96I1.) . . 

98. Ibid . 

99. Rusk (CINCPAC) msg to State, "Highlights of General Khanh Conversation 
with Secretary, May 3I/' 2 June 1964 (SECTO 37). (in State Dept 
Material, Vol I.) 

II 100. Enclosure to CINCPAC letter to SecDef, "Summary Record of Plenary 

Session, Special Meeting on Southeast Asia, 1-2 June I96I+," 8 June 
I96U. (In Vietnam 38I : 1-10 June file.) 

101. Ibid . • •• ■ ■ 

102. VJm. Bundy Mem-O for Record, "Tuesday Afternoon Session in Honolulu, 
June 2, I96U," 3 J^ane I96U. (in State Dept Material, Vol I.) 

103. Ibid., pp. 2-k, passim . 


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10l|. Ibid > J p. 4. 

105. lipid . , pp. i|-7^ 

106. Ibid . , pp. 7-9- 

107. Wm. Bandy memorandum to Secretary Rusk, "Highlights of Honolulu 
Conference," 3 June 196^. (in State Dept Material, Vol I.) 

108. Ibid., pp. 5-6. 

109. Bundy note to Secretary McNamara, General Taylor, Mr. McCone, with 
} ■ Ibid, attached, 3 June I96U. (in Vietnaja 38I : 1-10 June fxle.J 

110. SecDef Mil Ass't memorandum to Chairman, JCS, 3 June 196^. (in Viet- 
nam 381 : 1-10 June file.) 

111. SecDef Mil Ass't memorandiim to General Burchinal, k June I96U. 
(In Vietnam 38I : 1-10 June file . ) 

' 112. airchinal memorandum to Army Chief of Staff, "Actions Stemming from 

Honolulu Meeting, 1-2 June I96I1," k June 196^+ (DJSM-941-64) . (In 
Vietnam 38I : I- 10 June file.) 

113. See New York Times , 21 June 196^+. 

llif. Manning memorandum to Secretary McNamara, "Southeast Asia Information 
I Requirements," 10 June 196^+. (in Vietnam 38I : 1-10 June file.) 

1! 115. Memorandum for discussion, "Alternative Public Positions for U.S. 

' ' on Southeast Asia for the Period July 1 - November 15, 10 June 1964. 

(in State Dept Material, Vol I.) 

f i- 116. Rostov memorandum to President Johnson, "Southeast Asia: June 6, 196^1," 

(w/Attachment: Draft Presidential Statement -- Southeast Asia) . (In 
Vietnam 38I : 1-10 June file.) 

117. See Washington Post , I5 June 196^, for coverage of the Rusk speech; 
New York Times , 2k June 196^1, for the President's news conference. 

118. Kent for Director, CIA, "Would the Loss of South Vietnam 
and Laos Precipitate a 'Domino Effect' in the Far East?" - 9 June 
I96U, pp. 1-2. (In State Dept Material, Vol I.) 

119. Ibid . , p. 2. . • 

120. CM- 1^1-50-6^, 2 June 196^1. . ' ■ 

121. Taylor memorandum to SecDef, "Comments of the CJCS on JCSM-^71-6U, 
Objectives and Courses of Action -- SEA," 5 J™e 196^1 {Cli-lk'^l-Gk) . 
(in Vietnam 381 : 1-10 June I96U file.) 


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122. McNamara memorandiom to CJCS, 10 Jime 196^. 

123. JCm-h^l-Gk, 2 June I96U. 
12l|. CM- 1^51-6^4, 5 June I96U. 

125. Memorandum for discussion^ 10 June I96U- 

126. Wm. Bundy memorand,um to discussants, "Probable Developments and 
the Case for a Congressional Resolution/' 12 June 196^? PP- I-63 
passim , (in State Dept Material, Vol I.) 

127. McGeorge Bundy to SecState and SecDef, 15 June 196^4- 
(w/attachments). (in Vietnam 38I : 11-30 June 196^ file.) 

128. Memorandum, for meeting on June I5, 1964, "Elements of a Southeast 
Asian Policy that Does Not Includ.e a Congressional Resolution," 
15 June 196^1. (in Vietnam 38I : 11-30 June 1964 file.) 

129. Ibid., p. 2. 

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